The NCAA Council has voted to lift a moratorium on athletic-related activities for three major sports, according to multiple reports. The vote allows for voluntary athletic activities for football and men’s and women’s basketball to run through the month of June. The Wednesday vote comes as states across the country are lifting their own shelter-in-place restrictions amid the global COVID-19 outbreak that halted all sports more than two months ago. The moratorium was set to expire on May 31.
The vote paves the way for schools and conferences to allow athletes back on campus for workouts. SEC presidents are scheduled to vote Friday on whether to open their schools to athletic-related activities on June 1. The MAC will also hold a similar vote on Friday. Big 12 presidents met via phone on Monday, but no decision was made.
This decision marks a significant moment for college athletics in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. June was generally viewed as the critical month for colleges as they decided how to proceed in everything from whether to hold classes on campus to football, whether with fans or without. Conferences began canceling or suspending all team-related activities in March amid the nationwide shutdown that forced college campuses to pivot to online classrooms. The SEC and Pac-12 suspended their activities through the end of the May while the Big Ten suspended activities through June 1. Multiple conferences have also moved their upcoming media days in the summer to a virtual platform.
In April, conferences began broadening their guidelines to allow for more for “more virtual connections” between coaches and athletes. Such connections included film review, chalk talks and team meetings, but did not allow for organized, in-person team activities.
Though the moratorium has been allowed to expire, it’s still up to conferences and schools to determine what they feel are best practices for allowing athletes to return for voluntary workouts. COVID-19 outbreaks and response methods vary by state — something that will affect not only college football in the coming months, but perhaps all of sports. College football power brokers have offered various opinions on what the season might look like. Though a majority of athletic directors are confident the season will be played, there’s little unity on how or when that will occur.