While the return of Pac-12 student-athletes for voluntary athletic activities is expected to be approved by school presidents next week, the man running the league made his opinion known Friday afternoon.
Speaking on CNN, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said he believes athletes are safer on campus. Furthermore, if things continue trending positively, training camp could open as early as late-July, with an on-time start to the college football season remaining the goal.
The University of Utah is scheduled to open its season Sept. 3 against BYU at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes do not leave Salt Lake City until a trip to Laramie to face the University of Wyoming on Sept. 19.
College football begins in earnest the weekend of Sept. 5, but three Pac-12 teams, Cal (at UNLV), Arizona (vs. Hawaii) and UCLA (vs. New Mexico State) open with Week 0 games on Aug. 29.
“We’ve got three states in our conference where gyms are already open and student-athletes are wanting to get back, and in most cases, we feel that student-athletes will be in a safer position and a healthier position if they can have access to the world-class medical care, supervision, support that they can get on their campuses and if there are issues with the virus, to have access to these world-class medical centers that we have,” Scott said.
“But these are baby steps, bringing safely student-athletes back to campus. And if things continue to progress in a positive direction, then training camp for football could start as early as late July and we could be on a nice glide-path to support the start of college football season at the end of August.”
The NCAA Division I Council announced on Thursday it would allow voluntary on-campus workouts starting June 1 for football, as well as men’s and women’s basketball. The college sports governing body amended that Friday, allowing all Division I athletics to restart June 1.
Earlier Friday, the SEC announced it would begin allowing voluntary on-campus activities to resume at its 14 schools starting June 8.
While its exact plans and procedures are not yet known, the Utah athletic department has been getting things in order for an early-June restart, first with athletes living locally. If the local phase goes smoothly, Utah would start to incorporate out-of-state student-athletes, potentially as soon as two weeks after the restart.