SEC lifts ban, Vanderbilt provides no timeline for return of student-athletes

While the Southeastern Conference is ready for student-athletes to return for voluntary workouts, Vanderbilt did not publicly issue a decision on the matter.


Emily Gonçalves

Vanderbilt announced that defensive backs coach Dan Jackson will step back from the program for the time being. (Hustler Multimedia/Emily Goncalves)

Simon Gibbs, Sports Editor

Last Updated May 22 at 5:32 p.m. CT

May 22, 5:32 p.m. CT

After the NCAA decided not to extend its moratorium on in-person athletics activities for just football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, the association revised its statement Friday to include all college sports.

The SEC updated its statement in conjunction; beginning June 8, all student-athletes (previously just football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball) may return to campus for voluntary in-person athletics activities, at each school’s discretion.

Vanderbilt did not provide new information regarding its stance.

May 22, 4:14 p.m. CT

The Southeastern Conference (SEC) announced Friday that student-athletes may return to campus for voluntary in-person athletics activities, at each school’s discretion, beginning June 8. The decision permits only football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball to return. The programs are limited to voluntary strength and conditioning, congruent with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) ruling

On Wednesday, the NCAA decided not to extend its moratorium on in-person athletics activities for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. The NCAA moratorium was originally set to expire on May 31. The SEC became the first of ten Division-I conferences to follow suit and lift its ban on on-campus activities. 

Vanderbilt athletics did not set a finite date on the return of its student-athletes. The department provided the following statement via an email to The Hustler:

“The health and well-being of our entire campus community continues to be our top priority. We have been working alongside experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and with the city of Nashville to create — and implement — the best short- and long-term plans to minimize risks for our student-athletes, our staff, our coaches, and the entire Vanderbilt community. These efforts strengthen our confidence that we will be ready for a variety of scenarios for the return of student-athletes both this summer and heading into the fall semester. Our detailed planning and analysis are well underway to determine the best time and methods for our student-athletes to return. Vanderbilt has created a Return to Campus Plan to ensure that we can all return to campus in the safest manner possible and in a phased approach, and any resumption of athletic activities will align with that plan. With this robust planning and action currently in place, our student-athletes and their families can be assured that they will return to campus in a thoughtful and measured way when that is possible.”

While the university remains in Phase One of its four-phased plan, Nashville city officials plan to transition to their Phase Two on Monday by reopening restaurants and retail stores at 75 percent capacity. Vanderbilt’s Return to Campus Plan does not denote when athletics may return.

Vanderbilt emphasized that its ramp-up may not mirror that of Nashville; instead, the university noted it “may lag” behind Nashville’s ramp-up.

The SEC issued a list of conditions for member institutions to follow in order to invite select student-athletes as early as June 8. In addition to “standard infection prevention measures as approved by public health authorities,” schools must provide enhanced education programs for student-athletes on health and wellness practices; enact a three-stage screening process that vets student-athletes before their arrival, within 72 hours of entering athletics facilities and on a daily basis; provide tests for symptomatic team members; enforce isolation of any team member diagnosed with or testing for COVID-19 and a transition period allowing student-athletes to ease into a full training regimen. 

Stay tuned to The Hustler and @VUHustlerSports for updates.