Football workouts resume in Clemson today


by - Senior Writer -
DJ Uiagalelei participated in spring practice and can attend the workouts.
DJ Uiagalelei participated in spring practice and can attend the workouts.

College football in 2020 is a little closer to reality.

The next step in preparations for the college football season happens today as athletes are allowed to start on-campus voluntary workouts. No matter what happens with the start of fall camp – whether there is a six-week camp as some have suggested, or the regular August camp we are used to seeing, this is an important first step.

The student-athletes must complete a physical, which will include a COVID-19 test, before taking part in team activities. They will also be screened daily.

Clemson Athletic Director Dan Radakovich released a statement about the decision, saying "We are encouraged to begin the first step in the implementation of our Phase I planning, and appreciate the leadership of our University in helping us prepare for our student-athletes and staff to return in early June. We are confident in our ability to provide a safe environment and have put our energy into that goal. We're encouraged by the progress and remain vigilant as we begin to welcome a limited number of student-athletes back to our facilities."

This includes all players that are currently on the team. True freshmen, who did not participate in spring football drills, will be allowed to begin voluntary workouts when second summer session begins on June 22.

After the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of sports across the country, the NCAA Division I Council banned all on-campus athletic activities. That moratorium was set to expire May 31. Schools then made the decision to begin a return to campus activities on June 1.

"We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate re-socialization framework," said council chair M. Grace Calhoun, the athletic director at Penn. "Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts."

So what does it mean when players have “voluntary workouts?”

Under NCAA rules, athletes — including incoming freshmen — are allowed to take part in voluntary summer weight training and conditioning sessions supervised by a strength coach for up to eight hours a week.

Here is what the NCAA has to say about voluntary workouts:

A: To be considered a “voluntary” activity, all the following conditions must be met: · The student-athlete must not be required to report back to a coach or other athletics department staff member (e.g., strength coach, trainer, manager) any information related to the activity. In addition, noncoaching athletics department staff members who observe the activity (e.g., strength coach, trainer, manager) may not report back to the student-athlete’s coach any information related to the activity. [Note: Coaches may not observe voluntary activities.]

The activity must be initiated and requested solely by the student-athlete. Neither the institution nor any athletics department staff member may require the student-athlete to participate in the activity at any time.

The student-athlete’s attendance and participation in the activity (or lack thereof) may not be recorded for the purpose of reporting such information to coaching staff members or to other student-athletes.

The student-athlete may not be subjected to penalty if he or she elects not to participate in the activity. In addition, neither the institution nor any athletics department staff member may provide recognition or incentives (e.g., awards) to a student-athlete based on his or her attendance or performance in the activity.

During the pandemic, there is an extra level of caution during this period and those to come, says the university:

"All phases include guidelines for social distancing, face coverings, enhanced sanitization, limited groups, modified use of space and other safety measures. In addition to the overarching plan, the department has worked at a granular level with coaching and support staffs, looking at each facility and developing guidelines for those individual spaces. The plans are subject to change based on guidance from the CDC, DHEC, State of South Carolina, Clemson University, the NCAA or the ACC or new medical information and research."

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