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Big 12 sets return date for voluntary workouts

The return of college sports appears to be inching closer and Friday brought some promising news in that regard. The Big 12 Conference will reportedly allow football players to return to campus for voluntary workouts next month.

The Big 12 Board of Directors on Friday approved a phase in for student-athletes to return to campus to engage in voluntary conditioning and workouts starting on June 15.

“Beginning June 15 football student-athletes will be permitted to access campus athletic facilities and support personnel for voluntary conditioning and training exercises,” the conference said in a press release. “Volleyball, soccer and cross country student-athletes are able to return July 1. All other Big 12 student-athletes may return to campus for voluntary sport-related activities July 15.

“This phased approach is intended to permit gradual adoption of best practices for mitigation of COVID-19 as well as ensuring a safe environment and appropriately prepared facilities. Until these dates, the Conference’s activities policy that was scheduled to sunset May 31 remains in effect for all Big 12 student-athletes.”

The Big 12 becomes the second conference to announce a return date.

The SEC announced Friday that it had voted to allow its member schools to return to on-campus activities beginning on June 8. Each school will work with state and school officials to determine when the best time to start those activities is, but it looks like a positive step in the right direction to have a college football season in 2020.

The NCAA Division I Council on Wednesday approved voluntary workouts in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball could begin June 1. The NCAA had previously placed a moratorium on all team activities through May, but re-evaluated its position as states begin to reopen businesses across the country.

On Friday, the NCAA extended that ruling to all sports beginning on June 1 while also extending a waiver allowing for eight hours of required virtual non-physical activities in all sports.

“The return of voluntary activity in addition to the extension of the waiver to allow virtual, nonphysical activity shows sensitivity to local, state and regional differences in how Division I campuses are reopening,” Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “We will continue to be considerate of these differences with wise and flexible administration of our regulations, and we expect schools to keep the well-being of student-athletes as a priority.”

According to the release, countable required athletics activities will be prohibited through June 30 for all basketball and football student-athletes. While that might be the case, though, schools are allowed to give funds equal to what student-athletes would receive for meals, lodging and expenses other than tuition, fees and books.

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