Last week, University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld made some waves when he announced at a Board of Regents meeting UI athletics plans to resume practice on June 1.
Monday, the Big Ten announced that it will extend the previously announced suspsension of all organized team activities through June 1 and then will re-evaluate.
The conference announced in March it would suspend team activities until May 4, but after evaluating the current climate, the Big Ten further extended the stoppage. That suspension also includes any on and off-campus recruiting activities as the NCAA has created a dead period for all its member institutions.
Harreld’s comments were among the first from a university president that put a specific date on a return to college sports.
“If we got to the worst of the worst, would we let the players play with no fans? I don’t know,” Harreld said at the meeting. “Because if we’re at that stage with this virus, we’d have to do a lot of testing of the individual players.”
Harreld was asked if there could be college football games without fans.
“And I’m not going to go ‘yes or no’ on that. I’m going to go with the experts,” Harreld said. “But right now, June 1 is the date we’re going to get back to practice.”
In two video conference meetings with reporters, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz has been cautious with mentioning any specific dates. His emphasis has been messaging on flattening the curve and staying home. Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle walked reporters through some of the phases of this new “working out from home/shelter” thing for players. The Hansen Performance Center remains closed.
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The Big Ten also repeated its previously announced a moratorium on all on- and off-campus recruiting activities for the foreseeable future.
The release stated, “The Big Ten Conference will continue to use this time to work with the appropriate medical experts and institutional leadership to determine next steps relative to the COVID-19 pandemic. The main priority of the Big Ten Conference is to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, faculty, fans and media as we continue to monitor all developing and relevant information on the COVID-19 virus.”
Ferentz and Doyle have talked about a six- or eight-week buildup in strength and conditioning to prepare for a season.
The Big Ten has formed a 14-member task force for emerging infectious diseases to provide counsel and sound medical advice to ensure the health, safety and wellness of the Big Ten’s students, coaches, administrators and fans. Representing each conference institution, the task forces is providing input as a resource to the conference to make some of these important decisions about safety in the future.
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