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J. Thomas McNamara

   The NCAA Council today (Wednesday, May 20), voted to lift a moratorium on athletic-related activities for three major sports. The vote allows for voluntary athletic activities for football and men’s and women’s basketball to run through the month of June.  Today’s vote comes as states across the country are lifting their own shelter-in-place restrictions amid the global COVID-19 outbreak that halted all sports more than two months ago. The moratorium was set to expire May 31st.
   The vote paves the way for schools and conferences to allow athletes back on campus for workouts. SEC presidents are scheduled to vote Friday on whether to open their schools to athletic-related activities on June 1. The Mid-American Conference will also hold a similar vote on Friday.  Big 12 presidents met via phone on Monday, but no decision was made.
   This decision marks a significant moment for college athletics in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  June was generally viewed as the critical month for colleges as they decided how to proceed in everything from whether to hold classes on campus to football, whether with fans or without. Conferences began canceling or suspending all team-related activities in March amid the nationwide shutdown that forced college campuses to pivot to online classrooms.
   The SEC and Pac-12 suspended their activities through the end of the May while the Big Ten suspended activities through June 1. Multiple conferences have also moved their upcoming media days in the summer to a virtual platform.
   I especially will be watching what the Big Ten Conference does June 1st since its headquarters are in the Chicago suburbs and where Gov. Pritzker is taking one of the toughest stands on when he will allow Illinois to reopen.
   I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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