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Workouts set to begin as EKU, WKU welcome athletes back to campus

RICHMOND, Ky. (KT) — Eastern Kentucky University has paved the way for its student-athletes to return to campus the school announced Monday.

Because of COVID-19 concerns, Eastern will follow federal, state, local, university and NCAA policies and guidances regarding social distancing and group sessions by individuals. Players will be evaluated, monitored on a daily basis and follow health and safety protocols.

Voluntary workouts will be limited to 10 people per group (nine student-athletes and one sports performance coach) through June 30.  Such principles will also apply to common areas such as locker rooms, athletic training rooms and meeting rooms.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be used and provided to student-athletes and athletics personnel.  All athletics activities will be scheduled and arranged in such a manner to allow for proper facility cleaning and sanitation prior to the next scheduled use.  Point-of-contact sanitation will be required at all facilities and common areas where sharing of equipment/apparatus may be necessary. 

“EKU Athletics has worked closely with university administration, medical professionals, our sports medicine staff and our sports performance coaching staff to develop a detailed plan for safely bringing our student-athletes back to campus,” Eastern Kentucky University Athletics Director Matt Roan said. “The ability to continue to progress is dependent on our ability to do things the right way. Our staff and administration are committed to the safety and welfare of our student-athletes. That is of supreme importance.”

A limited number of student athletes in men’s basketball and football who live in the region returned on June 8. More and larger groups of players began arriving on Monday. Members of the women’s basketball team are expected to be back to campus in July.

Current NCAA regulations will only allow strength and conditioning coaches to supervise voluntary on-campus athletics activities this month.  Organized practice remains prohibited by the NCAA in all sports.

According to the release, “all supervised athletics facilities will be required to maintain a daily sign in/out sheet including time of day.  In the event of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection among student-athletes or athletics personnel, such information will be used for contact tracing purposes in order to help identify other individuals who may have been exposed, and determine whether such other individuals should undergo COVID-19 testing and/or self-quarantine.”

Locker rooms are close and student-athletes and athletics personnel are required to report to a pre-arranged station and fill out a daily risk assessment questionnaire, have their temperature taken and perform appropriate hand hygiene.

Like Eastern, Western Kentucky University is welcoming the return of its student-athletes and began voluntary workouts last week.

“We are excited to welcome back portions of our student-athletes and staff to campus this summer under safe, strategic guidelines set forth by numerous governing bodies and medical advisors,” WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart said. “We understand that Athletics will lead the way in many respects in our university’s restart, and it’s a responsibility we take seriously. We feel very confident in the plan we’ve set forth as we begin a staggered restart this summer and work toward regularly scheduled fall activities on campus.”

Western Kentucky’s football opener against Chattanooga has been moved from June 5 to  June 3.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.