IU announces plan for football, basketball athletes to return

Indiana has announced a timeline for restarting athletic activities this month.

Football players will begin to return to voluntary workouts on June 15, while men’s and women’s basketball will officially be back on June 18. Other falls sports will then return in a staggered process.

“We cannot totally eliminate the risk,” athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement. “At least until there is a vaccine, there will be risk. What we can do is have the best doctors give us the best protocols and make sure they are strictly followed. That’s what we’ve done and what we are going to do.”

According to IU’s release, returning athletes will have to go through “a series of pre-participation protocols.” That will include a virtual pre-participation history conducted by IU Sports Medicine, according to the restart plan, which will determine if the athlete has been sick or is currently sick and if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

Athletes will also be expected to follow CDC guidelines regarding social distancing, maintaining a distance of six feet apart in IU’s indoor and outdoor facilities. No more than 10 participants, including staff and student-athletes, will be permitted in a space, and teams are expected to split athletes into cohorts that can be staggered for in-person activity.

If physical distance is not possible during an activity, or if participants are in a closed space, such as a meeting room, they will be required to wear face coverings. IU is also trying to limit contact in other ways; for example, athletes and coaches are advised not to give fist bumps or high fives. High-touch equipment, such as water fountains, will be closed.

Once they are “reintegrated,” athletes will be given daily medical checks, filling out a health screening questionnaire prior to participating in team activities that day.

“If a student-athlete selects ‘yes’ to any symptom(s), they should immediately contact a member of the IU Sports Medicine staff to receive guidance on next steps, and they should not come to the facility,” the plan states.

When athletes report to athletic facilities, they will have their temperature checked. For football players, their medical check entry point will be the north end zone of Memorial Stadium. Basketball players will be checked at the main entrance for Cook Hall.

When deemed necessary by IU Athletics’ Chief Medical Officer, participants will have to submit to COVID-19 testing, according to the plan.

Athletes will also sign a “pledge” outlining expectations that they, among other things, practice personal hygiene and social distancing. They will also be required to notify medical staff if they are exhibiting symptoms and self-isolate, if necessary.

Once the football and basketball teams have returned, other fall sports will begin workouts on a rolling basis. That includes women’s soccer (July 6), volleyball (July 8), men’s soccer (July 13), field hockey (July 15), and cross country (Aug. 18). Other athletes will return when school starts, which IU has scheduled for Aug. 24.

The release stressed the voluntary nature of these workouts and that “IU Athletics will emphasize the voluntary nature of the workouts to its students.”

The NCAA previously cleared the way for athletes to begin voluntary activities, beginning on June 1. The Big Ten’s moratorium on activities also lapsed on June 1.

This story will be updated.