WYOMING — The University of Wyoming became the first college or university to announce a return of athletes to campus.
The UW Athletics department last week announced that a portion of student-athletes from football and men’s and women’s basketball will return to campus on June 1 to participate in voluntary athletic activities. Other student-athletes will arrive on campus throughout the summer in various phases. The decision comes in conjunction with the NCAA Council’s Wednesday vote to lift the moratorium on athletic-related activities.
“Our first priority is the health and well-being of our student-athletes, our campus community and the surrounding area,” UW Director of Athletics Tom Burman said. “We have done a deep dive into all of the options available, including quarantining and testing, and we feel good about our plan going forward. With quarantining and testing we believe there will be limited risk to our community, campus, staff and student-athletes.”
Earlier this month, the National Collegiate Athletic Association released a document entitled Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport, generated by a COVID-19 advisory panel. In it, NCAA outlined a phased plan approach for the eventual return of college sports.
The bottom line big question, however, is whether students in general return to campus. “College sports won’t return this fall if colleges remain closed,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert in an interview with college sports reporter Andy Katz on May 8.
For now, UW is moving slowly and carefully.
The Athletic Department’s transition back to sport participation will be done in a measured, disciplined way that accounts for the safety and well-being of everyone involved, Burman assured. In consultation with medical professionals and university administrators, a logistical, tactical and data-driven plan has been developed that will allow for the return of student-athletes to university facilities. The plan will remain flexible in order to adequately conform to the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Education and the State of Wyoming.
“We have been evaluating possible ways to have a limited number of students voluntarily return to UW,” Primary Care Physician/Medical Director Dr. Matthew Boyer said. “This will be under strict supervision with strict limitations. In preparing this policy, we are following national and local government recommendations for resocialization.”