NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

OU football: Voluntary workouts to start July 1, well after many other Power 5 schools

OU football will re-open its facilities on July 1 for voluntary workouts, the athletic department announced Tuesday, even though the NCAA Division I Council voted to allow such activities starting June 1 and a variety of conferences and schools will re-open before July.

“As we have planned for the re-opening of our facilities, the health of our student-athletes and staff has been our top priority," OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a press release. “It is the principal that has guided every step of our meticulous process.”

The Southeastern Conference voted to allow athletes to begin voluntary workouts on June 8. The Big 12 voted on a date of June 15. The Big Ten decided to let individual schools set their own date, and Ohio State selected June 8.

“Our medical personnel have told us that the safest thing we can do is keep our players off campus for as long as possible,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said in the press release. “We chose the latest point that we could bring them back and still have enough time to prepare."

An OU source said the Sooners’ July 1 date would not be changed by rivals coming back earlier.

"We believe in our approach and are convinced that it best positions our student-athletes and staff for long-term success,” Castiglione said.

Riley said on May 14 that it was “ridiculous” for football programs to consider starting voluntary workouts on June 1. But six days later, the NCAA Division I Council issued its vote.

The voluntary workouts are not the organized team workouts traditionally associated with summer and led by strength and conditioning coaches. The voluntary workouts basically mean the college training facilities will be open – they have been shuttered since the second week of March – and players can use the equipment for running, weightlifting, etc. University staff are permitted to be present, but only for safety protocols, not for leading workouts. Social distancing will be required at the workouts, according to OU’s press release.

Most college athletes have been working out on their own and have received digital guidance from their schools.

The OU source said it’s possible that organized workouts could be permissible by July 1, but that would require another vote by the conferences or the NCAA.

Some in college football have said they can provide better control within their own facilities, in terms of safety from the coronavirus. Players nationwide have been working out at a variety of off-campus locations. But OU’s concern is more the social aspects of having players back on campus.

Riley talked about the 22 hours a day his players would not be working out and would likely not be practicing social distancing. Riley said the concern is not just the health of his players, but the health of all those who come in contact with the players, including a variety of university support personnel, from football-specific employees to janitorial staff to food-service workers.

“Listen, we’re going to have to do it at some point, if we’re going to try to have a season,” Riley said of players returning to campus. “I get that. But why we would not advantage our time and get as ready and educated as possible? So we’ve got to be patient.”

OU’s press release said student-athletes will be evaluated for clearance by the Sooner medical staff, will be continuously monitored and will be expected to adhere to a number of safety protocols and guidelines.

"As I have stated before, we are going to approach this return with extreme care," Riley said in the release. "We have received tremendous guidance from highly-respected medical professionals, and we will follow their recommendations. We understand that the well-being of our student-athletes is at the top of our responsibilities. That's why we will be diligent in how we manage everything from the way we relate to each other to the cleaning of our facilities and beyond.”

OU announced that most of its athletic-department employees will continue to work from home, and athletes in other sports will be brought back to campus later in the summer through a phased-in approach.

Related Photos
Oklahoma's Nick Basquine (83) celebrates over Baylor's JT Woods (22) after scoring s touchdown during the Big 12 Championship Game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Baylor University Bears at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Oklahoma won 30-23. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma's Nick Basquine (83) celebrates over Baylor's JT Woods (22) after scoring s touchdown during the Big 12 Championship Game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Baylor University Bears at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Oklahoma won 30-23....

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c56202176a847375a3b3cc0249a8ad00.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma's Nick Basquine (83) celebrates over Baylor's JT Woods (22) after scoring s touchdown during the Big 12 Championship Game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Baylor University Bears at AT&amp;T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Oklahoma won 30-23. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Oklahoma's Nick Basquine (83) celebrates over Baylor's JT Woods (22) after scoring s touchdown during the Big 12 Championship Game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Baylor University Bears at AT&amp;T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Oklahoma won 30-23. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Oklahoma's Nick Basquine (83) celebrates over Baylor's JT Woods (22) after scoring s touchdown during the Big 12 Championship Game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Baylor University Bears at AT&amp;T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Oklahoma won 30-23. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

Comments