Oklahoma and Oklahoma State football players may return to campus to begin voluntary workouts as early as June 15, the Big 12 Conference announced Friday night.

The league’s board of directors, during a Friday vote, approved a “phase-in” plan for student-athletes, with sports staggering in at varying dates.

Beginning June 15, football players will be permitted to access campus athletic facilities and support personnel for voluntary conditioning and training exercises.

Student-athletes participating in volleyball, soccer and cross country — fall sports — will be allowed to return on July 1. All other Big 12 student-athletes (including men’s and women’s basketball) may return to campus for voluntary sport-related activities on July 15.

According to the league, the phased approach is intended to permit gradual adoption of best practices for mitigation of COVID-19 as well as ensuring a safe environment and appropriately prepared facilities.

During a Friday morning interview on KREF radio in Norman, OU athletics director Joe Castiglione didn’t appear eager to bring students back to campus hastily, even though the NCAA announced workouts and training could begin on June 1.

“I’m certainly well aware of it. And one could argue that there are advantages for getting the student athletes back on campus as soon as possible,” Castiglione said. “But there are also risks. And in our minds, as we consistently listen to the medical experts we’ve been talking about for weeks and weeks now, we don’t believe we’re at a point yet where the positives outweigh any of the risks. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“In our mind, the risks far outweigh any of the positive gains we might have for those few weeks. So we are not planning to have our student athletes back for the first part of June.”

The Southeastern Conference presidents voted Friday to allow voluntary workouts on June 8.

Eric Bailey



Twitter: @ericbaileyTW

Sports Writer

Eric covers the University of Oklahoma football and men’s basketball teams. A Haskell Indian Nations University graduate, he has been a member of the Tulsa World sports staff for 12 years. Phone: 918-581-8391