Though the NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to lift a moratorium on voluntary workouts by football and basketball players effective June 1, that doesn’t necessarily mean University of Richmond student-athletes will be able to return to campus then and begin preparations for upcoming seasons.
Through a spokesman Thursday, John Hardt, UR’s vice president and director of athletics, said the campus remains closed in compliance with state guidelines at this time and “university leadership have not yet made determination when campus will be reopened beyond essential personnel.”
The decision by the NCAA Division I Council, a 40-person group responsible for the day-to-day decision-making for Division I, cleared the way for on-campus workouts by athletes as long as all local, state and federal regulations are followed. Most campuses have been shut down for student-athletes’ workouts since mid-March.
“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate resocialization framework,” Penn athletic director and council chair M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”
On March 12, UR canceled all sport competitions and practices due to health and welfare concerns associated with COVID-19. The same day, the NCAA canceled its winter and spring championships, effectively prohibiting on-campus workouts until further notice.
CAA commissioner Joe D’Antonio, whose football league includes UR, James Madison and William & Mary, said in an interview with The Times-Dispatch that his conference’s athletics directors and athletic trainers advised him that ideally they would like to have football players in supervised training/practice programs on campuses at least eight weeks prior to season-opening games. The first full week of college football is scheduled for early September.
D’Antonio said the season could also start on time with six weeks of preparation and, “if things had to happen in a four-week period, there might be a possibility that from a health-and-safety standpoint, things could ramp up that could work.”
Many conversations are regularly held regarding that timetable now, according to D’Antonio. He said he expects more clarity to come as June progresses.
“Once you start to get beyond that Aug. 1 period of time, if things have not begun, then I think you could be in a scenario where you’re looking at a discussion of, ‘OK, we could still possibly play football, but is it going to be in a modified format in terms of the number of games?’” D’Antonio said.