For more than 10 weeks, the athletic facilities at the University of Colorado have been unused because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That will change in the next few weeks, although exactly what workouts look like has yet to be determined.
Last week, the NCAA announced that student-athletes may resume voluntary on-campus workouts on June 1. Earlier this week, the Pac-12 pushed that date to June 15, and CU is preparing for the return of its student-athletes.
“I’m hopeful that by the end of next week we’ve got a pretty good understanding of what all that looks like,” CU athletic director Rick George said Thursday. “I’m really happy with the progress we’re making on that and what we’re doing.”
George said more than 100 student-athletes have remained in Boulder during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the shutdown of collegiate athletics in mid-March. As of Thursday, he said 133 student-athletes are in Boulder – more than one-third of CU’s entire roster of athletes.
“We anticipate that to grow a little bit with the NCAA’s announcement,” he said.
CU sent a letter to parents this week, outlining the steps being taken to keep athletes safe, and George said it will be up to the parents and student-athletes to decide if they want to return for summer workouts.
“We’re going to be comfortable with their decision, whatever it is, but we also want them to know that if they choose to send their son or daughter back … we want to make sure that they understand what that’s going to mean and how many people are going to be able to work out,” he said.
George said CU will have “some extensive reentry processes in place” for the students, including a quarantine period for those returning from out of state and physical exams performed on all the athletes by CU’s medical staff.
“We want to be thoughtful about how we bring people back,” George said. “I do think a number of our student-athletes want to come back, but certainly we’ll adhere to whatever guidelines are set in front of us.”
Those guidelines will likely include symptom checks and cohort workout groups. CU thoroughly cleaned and sanitized its workout facilities in March and will do so between cohort group workouts.
“I feel strongly about what we’re doing in our facilities,” George said. “I think our protocols and our processes are excellent. We want to make sure that people that walk in our doors feel comfortable walking in our doors with the cautions and the processes and the protocols that we put into place.
“We’re ready to go. We’re just waiting for the direction and the guidance that we’ll get from our local and state and campus policies and procedures.”
Last week, Ceal Barry announced her retirement after 37 years in the CU athletic department. The former Buffs’ women’s basketball coach has spent the past 15 years as an administrator, where she filled several roles.
George said he is in the process of replacing Barry, but it will be done internally and with multiple people.
“I’ve identified people that will fit those roles,” he said. “It won’t be one person having all the roles she had. I’m looking at taking those to different people in our department. I’ve got really good people that I think can fill those roles.”
On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that it will allow strength coaches to oversee virtual workouts, but only if it is requested by the student-athlete. “I think it’s a positive,” George said. … George was asked if he has talked with other schools about filling potential holes in the football schedule if some schools are not playing this fall. He said it’s premature for those discussions.