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Baylor Football

Football is back! Big 12 says players can return to campus June 15 for voluntary workouts

May 22, 2020

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The Big 12 and SEC on Friday provided optimism that there will indeed be a 2020 season by announcing players from all conference schools can return to campus next month for voluntary workouts.

No more Zoom meetings, FaceTime calls and recruits receiving care packages filled with workout gear and playbooks. It's time to get down to the nitty gritty. It’s time to get back in the weight room and on the field.

Big 12 football players will be able to report on June 15, while those in the SEC can come back June 8.

Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News was among the first to report the Big 12’s and SEC’s decision. According to Carlton, Big 12 schools “will have to abide by local and state protocols related to COVID-19.”

Athletes competing in other fall sports can report July 1, while winter and spring sport participants can come back July 15.

“These kids haven’t been training at the level they would've been if they were on campus,” Bowlsby told SiriusXM Big 12 Radio last week.

Friday’s announcement came after a decision by the NCAA earlier this week to allow football and men's and women’s basketball players to resume workouts at the discretion of their respective conferences.

Baylor Vice President and Athletic Directory Mack Rhoades released a statement on Friday evening confirming that Baylor football players would follow the protocol set in place by the conference.

“We are grateful and excited for the return of our football student-athletes on June 15.  Over the past several weeks, our Health and Wellness team led by Kenny Boyd has worked in conjunction with University leadership, conference governance, and local health officials, to develop a comprehensive plan to support the safe return of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff. We will remain diligent in monitoring our various safety procedures and protocols to ensure a healthy and safe environment as we continue to navigate through this pandemic.

“We are very encouraged by this step forward and are grateful for the collective work of the Big 12 presidents, athletic directors, medical directors, and the leadership of Commissioner Bowlsby.”

The possibility of having a football season at all in 2020 seemed like a long shot throughout much of the past two months. Health experts and sportswriters—many of whom apparently think they’re health experts—ridiculed anyone who suggested a May or June return to campus. And they bristled at the mere suggestion that a 2020 season could be played with any sort of normalcy.

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit expressed doubt that a 2020 would ever be played. Earlier this week, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley called the suggestion that players could return to campus by June 1 “ridiculous.”

Yet a few days later, on Friday, Texas governor Greg Abbott issued not only an assurance that games would be played, but that they would occur “with fans in the stands.”

Preparation for those games begins, in earnet, June 15 in the Big 12.

“Our number one goal will always be the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff,” Baylor head football coach Dave Aranda released in a statement. “With that said, I would like to thank the Big 12 presidents, athletic directors and conference staff for allowing voluntary in-person athletic activity on our campus to begin June 15. I would like to say a special thank you to our Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades and Senior Associate AD Kenny Boyd, and many others who have worked tirelessly through this process. This is an important step toward competition and I look forward to welcoming our student-athletes back to campus soon.”

Baylor is scheduled to play Ole Miss in its season-opener Sept. 5 in Houston, although that game will likely be moved to Sept. 6.

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