Player at bat

A May 21 decision will allow Missouri State University football and baseball athletes to return to campus.

In response to a vote by the NCAA Division I council on Thursday, May 21, Missouri State made the decision to allow football and baseball athletes to return to campus June 1 for workouts.

These workouts will be voluntary and not considered team activities. Athletes will have to initiate the workouts, and coaches cannot direct players. Coaches are also not allowed to have their players report back to them according to the NCAA.

Springfield’s current “Road to Recovery” program only allows contact sports like football and basketball to hold non-contact practices, but on Saturday, May 23, contact practices will be allowed to resume in separated groups of 25 or fewer.

MSU is in the process of preparing their facilities for athletes to return, including JQH Arena, Plaster Stadium, weight rooms around campus and other fields.

According to a press release by MSU released May 22, the athletes return to campus will include a risk-assessment survey and a COVID-19 clearance procedure provided by Magers Health and Wellness Center.

“Obviously, we are a long way from ‘normal’ or having everyone back,”Kyle Moats, MSU director of athletics, said in the release. “But, in consultation and cooperation with university officials, we will take great precautions to create a safe environment for our student-athletes and our staff who chose to return.”

In the release, Moats said he expects the NCAA to allow athletes from other sports to return to campus sometime in the near future.

Some schools are not allowing athletes to return to campus so soon. Oklahoma University football head coach Lincoln Riley, who the Bears open their season against on Sept. 5, said last week allowing students to return in early June is, “one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.”

The Southeastern Conference, which includes teams like Missouri and Alabama, will vote on May 22 to decide whether or not athletes in SEC football and basketball programs can return to campus.

No decision has been made about NCAA fall sports being able to start on time. If the football season is canceled or the schedule shortened, MSU could miss out on playing at Oklahoma. The game, scheduled for Sept. 5, includes a $600,000 guarantee Missouri State will receive for playing in Norman.