Athletics’ Phased Return to Activity Moving Forward

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The Hatters men’s basketball team, following procedures set forth in the Stetson Athletics COVID-19 Resocialization of Sports Plan, has been permitted to move into Phase III of activities. That allows the team to hold full-contact practice after the entire team, coaches and assistants tested negative for COVID-19.

The team, following another round of COVID-19 testing that included every player, coach and staff member on Sept. 8, is the first Hatters program allowed to move into Phase III. The team is led by second-year head coach Donnie Jones (pictured).
 
All of Stetson’s other athletics squads are still in Phase I or Phase II in the return to activities.

The Resocialization of Sports Plan is a living document online that is frequently updated by members of the Stetson Athletics COVID-19 Action Team, in response to the latest information from the larger Stetson Safer Campus Task Force and in conjunction with the NCAA Coronavirus Advisory Panel.
 
The plan provides step-by-step details for Stetson Athletics programs to follow in order to return to a somewhat normal practice schedule during the fall semester.
 
Each of Stetson’s 18 athletic programs, plus the cheer squad, has gone through rigorous screening and testing protocols, on top of the normal physicals and screenings conducted each year. The increased screenings have included multiple PCR tests to detect the COVID-19 virus, as well as antibody screenings to determine previous exposures.
 
Those people who tested positive for the antibodies or the virus have been through quarantine to protect the larger Stetson community. They also have been through a more extensive battery of cardiac tests to determine if there have been any longer-term impacts from having been exposed to the virus.
 
Following those physicals, isolation and additional testing, student-athletes have been allowed to begin returning to athletic activity in phases. Three phases of return allow for increased levels of activities for students, coaches and others who support the athletics programs.

Phase I: All programs are entered Phase I upon completion of physicals and testing. Phase I allows for team meetings, workouts in the weight room, conditioning and individual workouts with coaches in groups of 10 or fewer indoors and 24 or fewer outdoors, as long as physical distancing (10 feet) can be maintained. All participating in activities must wear face coverings, unless directed by the strength coach to remove during physical activity. Athletes are not to use common objects such as athletic equipment (balls, racquets, bats, etc.), and time in locker rooms is limited to 10 minutes in small groups.

Phase II: This allows for an increase in group sizes to 50 or fewer for coach-led practices. Also, it limits the weight room to 37 or fewer at one time and only allows for more than 50 outdoors if physical distancing is possible. Face covering are still required, unless directly involved in physical activity, but the use of common objects is allowed. No physical contact is allowed, and safety measures indoors remain in place.

Phase III: The third phase allows for the return to more normal team practices and, when permitted, outside competition. Numbers allowed in the weight room and training rooms return to more normal levels, with face coverings still mandated for student-athletes not involved in physical activity.

Athletics Director Jeff Altier

“This return to near-normal activity for our men’s basketball program is what we hoped to see when we put the Resocialization of Sports Plan in place,” Director of Athletics Jeff Altier said. “As long as the students on the DeLand campus, especially the student-athletes, continue to follow the Safer Stetson Task Force’s guidelines regarding the wearing of masks, washing hands and maintaining physical distancing, we will see more normal activities begin to return.
 
“What we can’t have happen is for our community to let its guard down, or relax social distancing mandates. All it would take is for one social gathering of people where masks aren’t being worn and physical distancing not being maintained for an outbreak to happen and negatively impact the entire community.”

Stetson University, as a whole, has a separate tiered system of COVID-19 safety restrictions in place.
 
The move through the phases for athletics doesn’t change the fact that no competition against outside opponents currently is being allowed. Also, no one outside the athletics bubble is allowed enter athletics facilities with the intent to view practices or workouts. Those rules will remain in place until a time that the Athletics COVID-19 Action Team, in consultation with university, state and local officials, along with conference offices and the NCAA, allow for competition to return.
 
“The University’s VP Operations committee has acknowledged the efforts of the Athletics COVID-19 Action Team and the increased level of testing and monitoring that has allowed our student-athletes to stay safe and to move through the phases for return to activity,” Altier said. “Our hope is to have all of our teams advance through the phases to the point where our student-athletes and coaches can return to as close to normal activity as possible.”

– Athletics Communications