Pac-12: Voluntary, in-person workouts in all sports can begin June 15

The Pac-12 will allow voluntary, in-person workouts for all sports to begin on June 15, as long as the local governments and universities allow student-athletes to return to campus, the conference announced Tuesday.

The Pac-12 joins the SEC and Big 12 in making conferencewide announcements allowing the return of student-athletes for voluntary workouts, as the SEC can begin as soon as June 8, and the Big 12 also is June 15. The Big Ten and ACC have left the decisions with their individual institutions. Last week, the NCAA announced conferences and schools could reopen for on-campus voluntary athletic-related activities for all sports on June 1.

The Pac-12 updated its conference pandemic policy during a meeting Tuesday and based its decision on "a set of best practice guidelines and protocols" established by the league's COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee, which includes a cross section of infectious-disease experts, physicians, researchers and trainers connected to Pac-12 universities.

"As states have either already opened or begin to open up access to parks, gyms and other training facilities, student-athletes should have the option at this time to be in, what for many, will be a much safer environment on campus," said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, "where they can have access to the best available health, well-being and training support."

According to the Pac-12 guidelines, the student-athletes must be fever- and symptom-free before returning to an athletic facility, and they will need a "pre-participation evaluation." Student-athletes, coaches and staff also are required to have PCR and antibody testing before returning to facilities.

The thorough guidelines for the schools also include specific responses to an infection or a presumed infection, including being symptom-free for 72 hours and at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms. Or, the athlete should be symptom-free and have two negative tests more than 24 hours apart.

The guidelines also address how to handle anyone who might have been within 6 feet of an infected person, including "anyone participating in face-to-face or contact drills against each other or using equipment that is not cleaned between uses." It suggests those people should quarantine at home for five days from the exposure and be tested on Day 3 and 5 from exposure, or quarantine for 14 days with no testing.

"As educational institutions, our highest obligation is to the health and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff," Pac-12 CEO group chair and University of Colorado Boulder chancellor Philip DiStefano said in a prepared statement. "As we considered the pros and cons of taking steps that can pave a path to returning to play, those considerations were foremost, guided by the advice of our own medical experts along with public health officials."