SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Back in March we were watching confetti falling on the Valley Champion Lady Bears, the men’s team walking off the court in St. Louis after a semifinal finish and the Missouri State baseball team taking the home diamond for the first time.
We didn’t know it then, but these would be our last glimpses of MSU sports action for the next two and a half months.
For Athletic Director Kyle Moats, the plan to return has been an ongoing discussion for more than a month now.
“We’ve probably worked on it for the last month and a half, maybe month,” Moats said. “But certainly, things are changing so fast that it’s hard to do too much ahead of time.”
Finally, after months of waiting, the NCAA has opened the door to that impending return.
On Wednesday, the Division One council voted to allow voluntary athletic activities on campuses starting June 1st.
“I think the NCAA really didn’t have much choice really basically because you had commercial places for these kids to work out in,” Moats said. “I think the NCAA felt it was better for them to work out voluntarily at their home gyms.”
For now though, this is strictly voluntary and only applies to football and basketball athletes.
“I suspect and anticipate with next week’s vote that may increase, but that’s not for sure yet.”
Plus there will be far more limitations than just who is allowed, since these practices will look a lot different than what we saw in mid-March.
“We’ve worked with city officials, we’ve worked with University officials, we’ve worked with our trainers and we’ve worked with medical staff,” Moats said when it came to crafting their testing and practice rules.
He also made it clear just because June 1st is the first day voluntary workouts are allowed doesn’t mean athletes will already be taking advantage on that day.
Still, it’s hard not to be excited about seeing sports back in action.
“It’s not just about, ‘Hey, we get to go shoot baskets or run up and down the court.’ It’s just the fact that mentally they’re not used to not doing something, not being around folks. They’re constantly being coached – and they’ve missed that for the last two or three months.”