Florida unveils plan to bring athletes back to campus

Photo credit: University of Florida

COVID-19 has pretty much shut down college athletics since it made its way over to the United States a couple of months ago. Now, the first steps are being taken to see their resumption.

Earlier today, SEC school presidents have chosen to re-open schools on June 8 for voluntary workouts among student athletes. With that decision having been made, Florida laid out its specific plan for how to do so.

One main component of this plan includes staggering the arrival of the players, which will take place in several stages over the course of several weeks. Essentially, the sooner your sport requires you to be back, the sooner you’ll be allowed back. So football players from last year’s team will be the first to return, and they’ll do so beginning on May 26 to undergo physical examinations. Returning players on the Gator volleyball and soccer teams will begin to return on June 15; returning men’s and women’s basketball players will do so on June 29. Incoming freshmen and transfers on the Gator football, soccer, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball will begin arriving on the first of July.

As one could guess, part of the players’ physical examinations will include COVID-19 testing, an obvious prerequisite to any practices or workouts. Once players pass their physicals and are green-lit to start practicing, they will be given daily temperature checks.

The plan also notes that, “Once student-athletes return and are cleared to begin training on campus, they will be screened daily with a temperature check and health questionnaire. As part of the plan, all student-athletes must wear personal-protection equipment during each appointment other than for lifting sessions.”

As for contact with inanimate objects: “All weight-room equipment and facilities will be sanitized each session and then again at the end of each day, and UF’s strength-and-conditioning staff will follow national guidelines for a safer return to training following a period of inactivity.”

To assuage fears that this is happening too hastily, or worse yet with political motivations, this plan was devised by a multitude of people who are literally paid to ensure the health of the young men and women who attend the University of Florida. Among the people responsible for this plan: Dr. James Clugston, who leads UF’s athletic trainers and medical staff; Dr. Michael Lauzardo, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at UFHealth, and Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi, director of UFHealth’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Program. They sought and subsequently used feedback from several strength and conditioning heads, including football’s Nick Savage and basketball’s Preston Greene, in creating their plan.

Here’s hoping that this is indeed the first step in the resumption of college athletics as we know it.