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NCAA approves ending moratorium for on-campus workouts

CU Buffs could begin workouts June 1, though many details still to be sorted

Boulder, CO – April 27, 2019: Alex Fontenot spins away from Jalen Sami during the 2019 CU Football Spring Game on April 27, 2019. (Photo by Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

For fans starved to see their Colorado Buffaloes back in action, there might finally be a glimmer of light flickering at the end of the tunnel.

Multiple national outlets reported Wednesday afternoon that the NCAA Division I Council approved a decision to end the moratorium on on-campus workouts, allowing voluntary workouts to resume on-campus for student-athletes in football and men’s and women’s basketball beginning June 1.

The Division I Council also approved a measure delaying the expected reformation of NCAA transfer rules, meaning the same, familiar regulations will be in place for the 2020-21 academic year.

What exactly the re-opening of athletics facilities for workouts amid the COVID-19 pandemic will look like at the University of Colorado remains to be seen. It will remain up to the respective conferences, along with each state’s according stay-at-home provisions, as to when those facilities open. It also is unclear what form any potential workouts will take in terms of the number of participants per session, duration, and the availability of coronavirus testing.

The Pac-12 Conference is expected to decide next week on its plan for moving forward. The moratorium for on-campus workouts is set to expire May 31. The latest development does not change the NCAA moratorium on recruiting for traveling, which recently was extended through June.

The Division I Council is expected to address the workout status of all other sports in the near future.

Wednesday’s ruling might open the door for some form of spring practice for CU’s first-year football coach Karl Dorrell, who could only watch helplessly as his first spring session as the Buffs’ leading man was shelved as the pandemic shut down NCAA athletics across the nation in mid-March.

For CU’s basketball teams, June typically is a time when newcomers to the men’s and women’s teams begin workouts with their new teammates while starting classes and working at CU’s youth athletic camps. Those camps already have been canceled, and the classes will remain online, but the glut of new players entering Tad Boyle’s men’s program and JR Payne’s women’s program could start getting their feet wet in the near future.

Many details certainly still have to be resolved. Yet given prominent universities like Notre Dame and Texas, among others, announced their intentions this week to welcome students back to campus in August, Wednesday’s turn of events certainly was a step in the direction of the resumption of NCAA athletics.

As for the transfer rule, delaying the vote on changing the status quo until January had been expected since the transfer working group, which includes CU athletic director Rick George, recommended to the Board of Governors a temporary delay in addressing the vote. That decision is now expected in January, with the implementation of any rules changes pushed until 2021-22.

While changes to current transfer rules still are expected, the working group decided the concerns surrounding the pandemic shutdown — from the financial setbacks to addressing the hurdles in returning student-athletes to campus and the athletic fields safely — made implementing sweeping changes to current transfer rules problematic.

That means the 2020-21 school year will feature familiar transfer rules, with undergraduate transfers in football, men’s ice hockey, baseball, and men’s and women’s basketball still requiring a “sit-out” season unless they acquire a waiver. At CU, that means new women’s basketball addition Tayanna Jones, a transfer from Georgetown, is likely to be ineligible for the 2020-21 season.