Illinois will start voluntary athlete training in June

Sports

CHAMPAIGN, IL – OCTOBER 29: General view from field level as the Illinois Fighting Illini take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Memorial Stadium on October 29, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. Minnesota defeated Illinois 40-17. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

CHAMPAIGN – When the NCAA announced this week that athletes from any sport can return to their schools for voluntary training on June 1st, a number of schools started finalizing plans to bring them back to campus.

Illinois is one of those schools that has done so, but they’re going to take their time to get things rolling for each of their athletic teams.

On Friday, the school’s Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced that five teams will be apart of their initial return of athletes to campus for voluntary workouts. Those who return will undergo what the university describes as “initial and ongoing viral and antibody testing, initial quarantining, contact tracing, and arrangements for extended quarantine and care of any student-athlete testing positive for COVID-19.”

Football and men’s basketball will be on campus first, scheduled to arrive in small groups in the first days in June. It’s hoped that they can begin workouts following the quarantine and testing in the second or third week of June.

Following a break to look at how the arrival of those team’s return, women’s basketball, volleyball, and soccer will be the next three teams to begin their staggered arrivals back to campus for workouts in early July. Men’s and women’s cross country would return next in early August with the rest of the sport coming back in early August.

Again, these workouts are voluntary and not required for any athlete.

Athletic director Josh Whitman said it was important for him to offer the chance for athletes to train on campus once the NCAA approved it.

“For most of our student-athletes, this is the longest interruption to their training most of them have experienced since middle school. We’re cognizant of the fact that once we get the green light to resume competition, we want them to be in a place physically to minimize risk of injury and to compete at the level they expect.

“So it was important to us once the NCAA opened the door for campus returns on a voluntary basis that we provide that opportunity to as many student athletes as we though we could, responsibly.”

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