Division I football teams now know when they could be able to bring a football back into their summer workouts.
The NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee announced Friday morning its proposed plan for summer activities and preseason practice for the 2020 season. That has been in flux since the coronavirus pandemic scuttled the spring practice season for many college football teams. Teams recently have been permitted to return to campus for voluntary workouts.
“As time has occurred, we’ve gone back to campus with voluntary workouts and now we’re in the process of saying when is it right to return with this model to make sure our student-athletes are prepared for competition,” West Virginia University Athletic Director Shane Lyons — the football oversight committee chairman — said in a video interview on the NCAA website. “I’ll give the committee a lot of credit for being very fluid as we’ve worked through this.”
The proposed model assumes a team’s first game is Sept. 5 (some teams, including Marshall University, have games scheduled earlier). Players will be required to participate in up to eight hours of weight training, conditioning and no more than two hours of film review per week from July 13-23. From July 24-Aug. 6, they can be required to participate in up to 20 hours of countable athletically related activities per week.
That includes up to eight hours of weight training and conditioning, up to six hours of walkthroughs where they can use a football and up to six hours of meetings. Those can include film review, team meetings, position meetings and one-on-one meetings. During those 14 days, players will be required to get at least two days off.
This model doesn’t make any changes to the legislated 29-day preseason practice period. That includes five days of acclimatization and the opportunity for up to 25 on-field practices. For teams playing their first game Sept. 5, that period would start Aug. 7.
The most important part of this entire discussion, Lyons said, was making sure all decisions were made in collaboration with the member schools of Division I. The committee wanted to build consensus so that when it takes the plan to the Division I Council on Wednesday, they won’t have to vet all the issues again.
Lyons said the process has been a challenge, because there is no blueprint for what schools are dealing with right now. Prior crises in modern college athletics have had end dates. With the coronavirus pandemic, the landscape changes from day to day, week to week and month to month.
“I think what we have learned by being patient when we started this discussion in April has gotten us to what we got to today,” Lyons said. “And fortunately, that’s been in the positive, with campuses reopening and having the voluntary workouts. If you’d have asked that question in April, the answer was probably that’s not going to happen, they probably weren’t going to be back until mid-July or perhaps even August.
“So I think there’s more clarity as we’ve moved down those paths, but it’s been a challenge and there are still a lot of hypotheticals out there,” he continued. “I don’t think any of us like hypotheticals, but one thing COVID-19 has taught us is that we have to address hypotheticals and have game plans in place in case it does change.”