Big 12 to join other conferences in allowing virtual meetings for teams

The Big 12 will join other Power 5 conferences in allowing virtual meetings between athletes, coaches and staff, beginning Monday, the league said in a statement Sunday night.

"All virtual group activities, including film study, are limited to two hours per week in all sports," the statement said, adding that these policies will be revisited and adjusted at regular intervals. "Only countable coaches may conduct virtual film study, technical discussions, tactical sessions and other non-physical activities."

When the conference originally suspended activities due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was with the understanding that a re-evaluation would occur before April. In addition to the virtual meetings, the Big 12 said that "coaches can recommend written, self-directed workout plans" for athletes as well.

The decision comes a week after Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, whose Sooners won the Big 12 championship last season, was critical of the system in place, feeling as if the league was lagging behind others in the virtual space.

"We've not been able to do virtual meetings. Our players have not been able to come into our weight rooms even on an individual basis. We haven't been able to send them equipment, whereas a lot of other conferences like the ACC right now, they've been able to do all those things. That hasn't been a positive," Riley told KREF radio in Norman, Oklahoma.

"These guys train, you know, basically for a living, and a lot of these guys are at home and they don't have a home gym in their home, and then their high schools, their local gyms, all those things are shut down. And so a lot of our guys -- not a lot, but I would say, you're probably talking about 20-30 percent of our guys, at least -- don't have anything to train with."

Last week, the SEC league office notified its 14 schools that virtual instruction and video conferencing for its football programs will be allowed beginning Monday, as well.

The SEC presidents and chancellors had initially voted to suspend all athletic activities, including practices, meetings and other activities, at least through April 15. But the new updated guidelines will now allow two hours of virtual instruction or meetings per week, including film review. The idea is to allow coaches to continue to engage with their players, who are not on campus during the coronavirus pandemic and taking online classes, and help fill in the gaps in the absence of spring practice.

Programs in the ACC, throughout the suspension, have been conducting meetings via Zoom.