LSU football will begin voluntary in-person training June 8 with "stringent health protocols in place," interim LSU president Tom Galligan said Friday during a Board of Supervisors meeting.
Galligan's comments came after the Southeastern Conference announced voluntary on-campus training can resume June 8 after a months-long suspension of athletic activities across the league. The decision marked a critical step toward fall competition.
LSU later confirmed Galligan's remarks with an official announcement.
Though the SEC decided student-athletes in football and men's and women's basketball can train with strength and conditioning coaches until June 30, LSU only cleared its football players to begin voluntary in-person training. It has not announced plans for student-athletes in other sports.
The conference also extended a waiver through the end of June allowing eight hours per week of virtual film review for football and basketball teams.
"At this time, we are preparing to begin the fall sports season as currently scheduled," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement, "and this limited resumption of voluntary athletic activities on June 8 is an important initial step in that process."
Student-athletes had trained by themselves, away from campus and without supervision, since the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of sports across the country in mid-March.
After canceling its remaining seasons and championship events, the SEC suspended all athletic activities, including practices and meetings, through May 31. It allowed video communication between coaches and players.
Beginning June 8, conference schools can enter a transitional period designed to ease student-athletes back into their sports after months of inactivity. Players may only train with strength and conditioning coaches, following NCAA regulations set earlier this week, and schools must provide football players with funds equal to a summer athletics scholarship to cover meals, housing and expenses.
At LSU, student-athletes may return to campus before June 8 as long as they do not participate in athletics activities, senior associate athletics director Robert Munson said. They can undergo physicals, medical screenings and testing, as well as receive academic or compliance assistance.
Once players return and clear health testing, they will register for summer classes and begin working out with strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt.
"The health and safety of our student-athletes is our top priority," LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. "We believe our student-athletes can and will receive the best possible care under the daily and strict supervision of our medical personnel and athletic trainers and in a facility designed to accommodate the unique needs of elite-level athletes."
Using recommendations from a conference Task Force, LSU announced health protocols in its athletic buildings when student-athletes return to campus:
Strict and daily screening for student-athletes and staff on campus including temperature checks and CDC questionnaire for entry to athletics facilities.
Members of the athletic training staff have been trained and certified in contact tracing.
Education component required for all student-athletes and staff and provided to parents and guardians prior to return of student-athletes.
Secured a sound testing approach that addresses the need for both PCR and antibody data.
Strategic physical distancing protocols for volunteer in-person activities.
Robust quarantine and isolation procedures.
Working with local and state agencies to secure necessary PPE to provide a safe environment that will help to minimize risk of viral spread.
Addressing dietary needs through modified performance nutrition center guidelines.
Voluntary in-person training will help prepare football players for a potential season. The NCAA prohibited football and basketball teams from required activities through the end of June, but without setbacks, schools might begin organized preseason workouts later this summer, a vital step for college football to take place this fall.
"That's a big step that we're going to bring the players back," coach Ed Orgeron said on local radio. "That's to get them ready for the season."
Advocate staff writer Brooks Kubena and columnist Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.