Guidelines, Policies Evolving As Schools Continue To Grapple With COVID-19 Fallout
If there’s one consistency in the collegiate athletic world in the spring of 2020, it’s that situations are quickly evolving. The pace and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are the drivers, and as a result what’s set today might be changed tomorrow.
College athletics administrators across the country are grappling with that basic fact as they try to plan for the future, but one of the most important abilities is to be able to respond to a shifting landscape quickly.
Two of the most recent updates to COVID-era policies are an extension of the recruiting dead period and an increase in the time that coaches are permitted to spend with their student-athletes in virtual video study and non-physical coaching activities.
The Big 12 Conference laid out 11 policies for all league athletic teams on March 29, with one of those limiting those virtual group activities between players and coaches to two hours per week. That policy has now been amended to four hours per week, bringing it in line with other Power 5 (A5) conferences.
The new policy otherwise remains the same in verbiage:
All “virtual” group activities, including film study, are limited to four hours per week in all sports. Only countable coaches may conduct virtual film study, technical discussions, tactical sessions and other non-physical activities. These policies will be revisited and adjusted at regular intervals and as circumstances dictate.
The NCAA also reacted to the growing spread of COVID-19, extending its ban on in-person recruiting activity through May 31 for all Division I institutions. Schools can continue to communicate with prospect by phone, email or other electronic means, but cannot host prospects on campus or visit them off campus.
Division I, Division II extends their recruiting dead periods: pic.twitter.com/aIC7WUTg3p
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) April 1, 2020
While these decisions aren’t monumental in and of themselves, they do reflect the fact that policies and rules around college athletics, which typically take months, if not years, to change, are much more fluid in nature in these times. The restart of athletics, which will depend on a number of factors both inside and outside the collegiate world, will require quick, flexible decisions and movement, and that has at least been demonstrated in these two minor cases.
“Decisions on the structure, schedule and components of training during the post-Pandemic period will be made as circumstances dictate,” reads the final statement of the Big 12’s current policies. “The Big 12 Conference Board and Directors of Athletics will convene regularly to assess changing circumstances and to make shared decisions regarding amendments to the above-listed policies.”