The NCAA took another step toward an on-time start to the college football season on Wednesday afternoon as the NCAA's Division I Council officially approved the Football Oversight Committee's plan for a return to college football practices.
The preseason plan will allow college football teams to return to the practice field six weeks before the start of their seasons.
“The Football Oversight Committee worked hard to create a model that balances the proper precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the need for an acclimatization period to safely return to play,” said Division I Council chair Grace Calhoun. “The Council members believe approving this model is a positive step forward for the sport.”
For Ohio State's purposes, the Buckeyes will now be permitted to begin required workouts on July 13, walk-through practices on July 24 and preseason camp on Aug. 7, given Ohio State's slated start date of Sept. 5.
College football teams will be allowed to resume required on-campus team activities – initially for eight hours per week – 54 days before their first game. 43 days before the first game, teams will be allowed to begin non-contact walk-through practices, in which teams will be permitted to practice football again but will not be allowed to use helmets or pads.
For a 14-day period, teams will be permitted to have up to 20 hours of required activities – up to eight hours of strength and conditioning workouts, six hours of walk-throughs and six hours of meetings – per week. Football players will be required to have at least two days off per week during that period.
Preseason camp will be allowed to start on its usual timeline of 29 days before each team's first game, with no hourly limits on required activities until fall classes begin or seven days before the season, whichever comes first. For Ohio State, that means the first day of camp will be on Aug. 7. Fall camp will still begin a five-day acclimatization period in which teams cannot practice in full pads, after which teams will be allowed to have up to 25 preseason practices.
Ohio State has already begun voluntary workouts on campus, but coaches are not allowed to monitor those workouts or require that players attend. Teams are permitted to require eight weeks of virtual team activities including meetings or film sessions, but they cannot require any in-person activities.
The Division I Council also approved a plan for men's and women's basketball teams to resume required workouts beginning July 20. The Division I Council deferred a decision on whether to make temporary adjustments to the men's and women's basketball recruiting calendars due to COVID-19.