UCF Student-Athletes Returned to Campus for Voluntary Workouts Monday
By UCF Information Center // June 2, 2020
Voluntary workouts will run through June 30
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Sixty UCF student-athletes, all members of the football team—are expected to return to campus next week to participate in phase one of voluntary athletic activities.
The decision comes in conjunction with the NCAA Management Council’s May 20 vote to permit those voluntary workouts beginning June 1 through June 30.
The voluntary workouts mean student-athletes are able to use strength and conditioning areas and other athletic facilities without the presence or supervision of coaches.
Sports performance coaches and athletic trainers may be present for safety purposes. Student-athletes also are permitted eight hours per week of virtual instruction.
Coaches can be part of those sessions, but no physical activities are allowed.
“Our UCF Athletic staff, coordinated by (executive associate athletics director) Brandi Stuart, has worked diligently over recent weeks to create this plan for our student-athletes to return safely to our campus,” says UCF vice president and athletics director Danny White.
“Certainly health and safety are our number-one priorities and are at the core of every element involved as we take the first step forward in terms of a return to college athletics, while at the same time being ever mindful of the challenges posed by COVID-19.
“Our staff has been consulting regularly with national health experts, as well as colleagues within our league (American Athletic Conference) and locally with Orlando Health. We are committed to keeping student-athletes, staff, coaches, campus and the community as safe as possible amid the pandemic. We expect flexibility to be required as we navigate multiple new sets of circumstances.
“I’m encouraged that the NCAA Council has approved this first step–this is an initial indication that the experts informing college athletics believe it is prudent and appropriate to move forward in phases.”
Here are elements of UCF’s plan for student-athletes returning to campus next week:
Medical Administrative Week – All returning student-athletes will take part in an initial week of re-orientation that will include COVID-19 testing at UCF through a specialized Orlando Health mobile testing team and extensive physical examinations.
They also will participate in a series of educational sessions designed to ensure they understand the behaviors required to maintain safe and healthy team and personal environments.
COVID-19 Testing – In addition to all returning student-athletes, testing for COVID-19 also will be required and conducted for all University coaches and other personnel who will regularly interact and come into contact with student-athletes.
Summer Facility Access – Student-athletes will utilize multiple strength and conditioning facilities in small groups to minimize cross-contamination. Use of strength areas will not begin until after the week-long administrative re-orientation is completed. Meanwhile, all team meetings will continue to be held virtually. Wellness check stations will be created at single entrance points for all facilities utilized by student-athletes and staff—to include daily temperature verification and hand sanitization.
Cleaning – Additional policies and procedures already have been implemented to ensure that all areas and equipment utilized by student-athletes are cleaned thoroughly after each usage and at additional times during the day. Athletics facilities staff also will conduct additional cleaning at night, including “deep cleanings” multiple times per week. Cleaning protocols will follow guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and recommendations of Orlando Health.
Housing – About two-thirds of the football student-athletes returning to Orlando for voluntary summer workouts will be housed in University residence halls. The remainder will live off-campus. There are additional plans in place in case isolation or quarantine is required.
Safety Measures (PPE) – All workout apparel will be cleaned daily by the UCF equipment staff. All student-athletes, coaches and staff will be provided multiple facemasks and will be required to wear them in all common areas within UCF Athletics facilities. In addition, each individual will be provided a personal water bottle that will be returned daily to be sanitized by the UCF sports medicine staff.
Staff – All student-athletes will have access to Dr. Michael Jablonski (medical director for UCF Athletics and president of Jewett Orthopedic Clinic Orlando Health) who will liaison with Orlando Health specialists in public health and infectious disease, Mary Vander Heiden (UCF director of sports medicine) and the UCF Sports Medicine staff for all medical needs.
“The coordination between UCF Athletics and leadership and physicians at Orlando Health is truly impressive,” says Dr. Jablonski. “We’re working closely to quickly implement a plan that brings student-athletes back to campus as safely as possible.”
Two additional waves of football student-athletes are expected to return to campus—one group of approximately 20 later in June and a third group at an undetermined date after that.
Some student-athletes from the men’s and women’s basketball squads are expected to return later in June.
The rest of the student-athlete population could possibly return in July for volunteer workouts depending on health conditions and related logistics.
“We are confident we are taking the appropriate measures to enable our returning student-athletes to feel confident in the healthy environment in which they will exist once they come back to UCF,” says Vander Heiden, UCF’s representative on the AAC COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group.
“There’s a fine line to be walked in terms of providing the return to sport programs within a more intense health regimen, and we feel the protocols we have put in place will allow us to accomplish all of that.”