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Tennessee sets voluntary return date for football players

A positive step.

NCAA Football: Tennesee Practice Caitie McMekin-USA TODAY Sports

College sports have taken a big step towards returning for the fall. The University of Tennessee announced a plan to resume voluntary in-person athletics on June 8th, per AD Phillip Fulmer.

Fulmer released a full statement on Friday.

“We are prepared and excited for the return of student-athletes to campus,” Tennessee Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer said. “Health and safety have been our top priority as we’ve gone about this planning process, and we’ll continue to follow guidance from medical experts and health officials as we navigate the coming weeks.

“Our staff and student-athletes should be prepared for a ‘new normal,’ as we’ll be implementing changes to how everyone accesses and uses our facilities. We plan to be extremely diligent in maintaining a healthy environment for our student-athletes, coaches and support staffs. In the coming days, we’ll execute procedures enabling student-athletes to return, with members of our football program being the first to arrive. We will conduct screening leading up to the resumption of activities on June 8. ”I continue to appreciate the guidance of the SEC’s medical taskforce as well as the outstanding leadership of Commissioner Sankey and our chancellors and presidents throughout the SEC.”

The SEC announced on Friday that each of their members could resume activities on June 8th with the proper precautions.

Athletics have been shut down since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, which occurred during the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament. That event was canceled, along with every other winter and spring sport.

Face to face recruiting has also been on pause, which will last at least through June 30th.

Getting student athletes back on campus in some form is big for fall sports, which remain on shaky ground for now. Plenty of questions remain, but Tennessee does plan on having students back on campus by the fall.

Will there be fans in the stands for football games? Will football begin on time? We don’t know, but this is at least a step in the right direction.