The Pac-12 Conference took a step toward easing restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, announcing it will allow voluntary in-person workouts in all sports beginning June 15, at the discretion of the conference’s individual schools.
Washington State responded by saying it will allow a “phased-in return” of such workouts in the coming weeks.
Following the cue of other major conferences in recent days, the Pac-12 said its CEO Group decided in a meeting to “allow each university to determine whether and how to open its sporting facilities in accordance with relevant county and state guidelines.”
The NCAA gave its OK last week for voluntary in-person activities in all sports.
The Pac-12 said it based its decision on guidelines established by its Medical Advisory Committee.
“As educational institutions, our highest obligation is to the health and welfare of our students, faculty and staff,” University of Colorado chancellor Philip DiStefano, chairman of the CEO Group, said in a statement. “As we considered the pros and cons of taking steps that can pave a path to returning to play, those considerations were foremost, guided by the advice of our own medical experts along with public health officials.”
Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement the school’s athletes will return to the campus in a “phased-in” manner and “the resumption of voluntary, in-person activity will be an important step as we begin preparations for the fall sports season.”
The Southeastern Conference will allow in-person workouts starting June 8, and the Big 12 will follow June 15. Two other conferences, the Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast, are allowing individual schools to set their own dates.
Spring football workouts were canceled or abbreviated across the country because of the pandemic, and it’s still unclear if football drills will be allowed this summer as players prepare for a season that could be shortened, delayed or canceled altogether.
“As states have either already opened or begin to open up access to parks, gyms and other training facilities, student-athletes should have the option at this time to be in, what for many, will be a much safer environment on campus, where they can have access to the best available health, well-being and training support,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said.
It’s unlikely all 12 schools will open their doors at the same time. States with schools in the conference are reopening at difference paces and that will affect when athletes can return to campus for workouts. Arizona has reopened many of its services and said professional sports can resume, while California, Washington and Oregon have been slower and more restrictive in allowing the resumption of small gatherings.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Dale Grummert may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2290.