USF begins phased return to campus for student-athletes

USF announced a plan for student-athletes to return to campus starting Wednesday. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

USF announced a phased plan for student-athletes to return to campus Tuesday following months away due to the coronavirus pandemic. Football will be the first to return with voluntary on-campus workouts beginning Wednesday.

Student-athletes from other USF sports will be phased in throughout the summer. Athletes on both basketball teams are set to return to campus for voluntary on-campus workouts on June 15. Volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, and cross country athletes are scheduled to return on July 6, followed by a second wave of football athletes the second week of July.

All student-athletes are expected to return when the fall semester starts in late August.

“We are excited to begin the phased return of student-athletes to campus for voluntary workouts to prepare for competition, starting this week with members of the football team, while we continue to be very mindful of the dangers of the current pandemic and prioritize our student-athletes’ health and safety first,” Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said in a statement.

In order to practice proper physical distancing, workouts will initially be conducted in groups of 10 outdoors under tents near the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center.

All staff and student-athletes will be subject to daily temperature checks, be required to wear face masks and gloves, and practice physical distancing when possible. High-traffic areas, equipment and facilities will be regularly disinfected.

Before participating in voluntary workouts, all student-athletes must be cleared by the sports medicine staff. Athletes will be monitored daily for any coronavirus symptoms.

“I appreciate the great work done by our team physicians and the close consultation with USF Health as well as local and national authorities as we put together a plan that is mindful of the safety of our student-athletes, staff and community, while phasing the return of our sports programs as quickly as we feel comfortable,” Kelly said. “A lot of work has been done by our facilities and strength staff to ensure the safest environment we can create and provide social distancing and preventative measures, such as hand sanitizer and guidance signage, at numerous locations throughout our facilities.

“We will continue to monitor and navigate changes in the pandemic and adjust accordingly with safety in mind.”