CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — It took one positive COVID-19 test to suspend the entire NBA season, and ultimately sports around the country. Three months later, the NBA plans to return by the end of July, and many universities are trying to do the same. Illinois recently outlined a plan to bring student-athletes back to campus, which follows the NCAA’s announcement in May which allowed athletes to return for voluntary summer workouts. Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman recently addressed concerns if an athlete does test positive for COVID-19.
“If that happens we have made arrangements, we’ll be quarantining those student athletes away from the rest, and providing care for them,” says Whitman.
Initially, Illini athletes were expected to return as early as June 3rd, but now athletes will arrive on June 8th. Football and basketball will be the first groups to return, with several strict guidelines in place, including:
- Athletes tested for COVID-19 test upon arrival
- Limiting athletes to small groups during workouts
- No ball-related practice like throwing or shooting
- Advising players to live on-campus in residence halls
“The whole plan is really built around that, trying to make sure that we have small groups of people together, we make record of who those groups are,” says Whitman. “We put steps in place to minimize the risk of infection, but allows us to take appropriate steps to protect those people as well.”
Volleyball, Soccer, and Women’s Basketball are the next teams expected to be back on campus, starting in July.