LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - McNeese athletes don’t have long to wait until they can finally practice on school grounds once again. McNeese Interim Athletics Director Tanner Stines said the Southland and McNeese will begin allowing players back on campus June 1 for voluntary workouts. The NCAA Division I Council voted to approve voluntary athletic activities in football, men’s and women’s basketball beginning in June on Wednesday.
“I think everyone is using this as a good gauge because when you can bring them back in a voluntary manner, you allow them access back in. Most everybody has online summer school so it’s an atypical summer. You do have a lot of kids that are still in your area or still on your campus who if you allow them access back in, allows us to start testing the protocols that were put in place for a return to play,” said Stines. “Let’s say you have 10 to 20% of the athletes that come in and do a lift group, shoot in the gym or throw out on the football field, it allows you to run them through this daily protocol of temperature checks, hand sanitizing and cleaning the spaces after they’ve been through them before we get into having 400 kids back at one time.”
Stines said players will go through a few filters like a temperature check to make sure they are healthy before being allowed on the practice surfaces.
“If they come in for any voluntary activity, they will have to go through the training room and have their temperature checked, do some re-training every day and answer generic questions about how they are feeling. If someone is perfectly healthy then they will temperature check fine and they will say that they have no symptoms and then we will let them go through,” Stines said. “We will use the training room as the entry point to go into the weight room or out to any of the fields. This will also allow us to work on that process so that the athletic training staff gets a little more familiar about it before we get into bringing in 100 kids a day through there.”
Stines said that there is hope that a positive month of this protocol should lead to a very optimistic outlook for a return of required practices and lifting in the month of July. From there, Stines is hopeful for games in the fall. He also pointed out that McNeese would not be more restrictive than mandated by a higher authority.
“The return and safety of the student-athletes is what we’re looking at, but no one can ignore the revenue model that pays for all the scholarships, everyone’s salaries and the business model of the athletics. What is the modified ability to get as many people out there to watch it? Everyone knows that you don’t get chills on Saturday morning practice like you do on Saturday nights on game day,” said Stines. “I do think there is an appetite, at least in our area, for taking it as far as we’re allowed to take it. I don’t see us being more restrictive at McNeese than what is being told to us by a higher authority.”