The University of Alabama athletics department now knows which direction it is headed in terms of a return of sports competition in the fall, but several specifics remain to be answered along the journey.
UA, and the rest of the Southeastern Conference, has set a June 8 date for the resumption of voluntary workouts under the supervision of strength and conditioning coaches, a starting point toward a possible on-time start for the college football season but one without guarantees at this point.
Also on Friday, the NCAA Council, following up on its Wednesday ruling that athletes in football and men’s and women’s basketball could return, announced that all sports could be included in the voluntary workouts after the passing of the May 31 moratorium.
That decision does not automatically mean that every athlete in all sports will return immediately, potentially overwhelming the available facilities and medical personnel.
Alabama, like many other campuses nationwide, plans a phased and gradual return of its athletes, UA director of athletics Greg Byrne told The Tuscaloosa News Friday night.
Byrne said the return would be “phased in” with football athletes returning first, then men’s and women’s basketball players, with UA administrators “still working on the rest” of the plan.
Earlier on Friday, Byrne released an official statement.
“The health and safety of everyone, including our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans has been, and will continue to be at the forefront as we prepare to return,” Byrne said in the statement released on Friday. “We appreciate the leadership and guidance of the Southeastern Conference and its Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force throughout this situation to best equip our campuses with educational materials and recommendations on best practices. Resumption of voluntary in-person activity is an important step in moving us towards the fall athletic season, which we are fully preparing for with a phased approach beginning June 8. In addition to our public health officials, we are fortunate to have an elite sports medicine staff here at Alabama, from our athletic trainers to our team doctors that we will continue to take direction from as we make decisions for a safe return.
“We look forward to welcoming back our student-athletes, coaches and staff to campus.”
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, speaking during a. appearance on “The Steam Room” podcast with Ernie Johnson and Charles Barkley, portions of which aired on TNT’s “NBA Tonight” program.
“I know it’s everyone’s goal to try to have a football season that starts when it’s supposed to start, like Labor Day weekend, and have as normal a schedule as possible and as normal a playoff situation as possible,” Saban said. “But I don’t know if that’s going to be realistic or not.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at or via Twitter @cecilhurt