The Big West Conference Board of Directors issued a statement on the phased in return to campus and competition of intercollegiate athletics regarding the upcoming fall 2020 athletic season. The statement, which was signed by the Board of Directors of the Big West Conference, states that they will issue an updated statement about their fall 2020 season in conjunction with the NCAA no later than July 20, 2020.
The Board of Directors state that their main principles in regards to the phased in return to campus and competition of intercollegiate athletics is health and safety, intercollegiate athletics’s transformative impact and the timing of decision making. The statement reads, “it would neither be fair nor responsible to prematurely announce a final decision regarding Fall athletics. We do not need to make that decision today, this week, or even this month. Instead, we have time for our health experts to continue the work that will both inform and empower us to make a better evidence-based decision when the game clock of our Fall season truly is nearing zero.”
Their phased in strategy comes with the precondition that certain measures may need to be rolled back, paused (or in the best of circumstances accelerated) at any time, and that all current federal, state, local and university COVID-19 prevention practices must be observed. According to the statement, these practices must include, but are not limited to: all equipment and facilities used by student-athletes or staff must be adequately and properly sanitized after each use, respective county guidelines in regards to facility sanitation and personal protective equipment shall be followed on each campus, CDC-recommended physical distancing practices must be observed at all times and any and all other health and safety protocols required by the CDC, NCAA, State Departments of Health or local agencies must be observed.
The Board of Directors will then initiate a phased in approach if and when all of these measures are taken. The phases in approach will follow health and safety protocols. This includes minimum initial campus re-population of key staff, coaches and administrators followed by minimum and strategically scheduled re-population of student-athletes. The statement reads, “Whenever possible and practical, all communications and certain training sessions between student-athletes, coaches, and staff should continue to be virtual.”
The Board of Directors noted that these and any other phased-in steps should be carried out with a focus on doing so “with the fewest possible people on campus and always consistent with public health guidance. We are hopeful for Fall competitions, but we are cautious.”