ST. GEORGE — Both Dixie State and Southern Utah University will be reopening their campuses and athletic facilities on June 15 for student-athletes to return. Both schools announced that the facilities will be open for in-person voluntary workouts with added procedures and precautions being taken to ensure the safety of the student-athletes.
“It will be great to begin to get back to some sort of normal, but we want to reiterate to our student-athletes to be patient during this process,” DSU Athletics Director Dr. Jason Boothe said in a press release. “We will slowly work through this and hopefully be able to expand what we are able to do sooner rather than later. However, if we are lazy about this and don’t follow our own guidelines, we could be our own worst enemy and cause us to take steps backwards rather than forwards.”
This is big news for the Trailblazers as they begin to make their transition into the Division I ranks and join the Western Athletic Conference. This will allow athletes who participate in the fall sports season to begin training and preparation while also allowing other athletes to return to campus for training.
This was also a concern for DSU men’s basketball head coach Jon Judkins when he spoke with St. George News about their three game deal with Southern Utah. With the move to Division I, basketball programs are allowed to have summer workouts and training, something that is not allowed in the Division II ranks. This re-opening for individual workouts will benefit not only the fall sports programs but all of the sports programs.
The Dixie State release also mentioned increased hygiene practices as well as the following of Centers for Disease Control, the state of Utah, local and university guidelines.
Southern Utah will be re-opening their facilities on June 15 as well. Out of state student-athletes returning to campus will be placed in a quarantine period with symptom checks daily while in-state students can start workouts right away. Out-of-state athletes will not be able to start workouts until June 22.
All training will be held outside for the first two weeks with the athletes back with social distancing practices and daily screenings for COVID-19 symptoms.
This plan from the SUU athletic department aims to have student-athletes from football, men’s basketball, gymnastics, soccer and volleyball back on campus as of June 22. If their plan is successful, they will then move to allow all of their student-athletes to return to campus.
“We have worked tirelessly on the best way to safely get our student-athletes back to campus, and we wanted to make sure we were as thorough as we could possibly be,” SUU Deputy Athletic Director Todd Brown said in a release. “This was a total team effort, and there are a lot of people responsible for making this happen, but the bottom line is that we are thrilled that we can start bringing our athletes back to campus in the next couple weeks and start pushing towards the fall.”
The earliest athletic event scheduled right now for the Thunderbirds is a Sept. 5 football game against Dixie State in Cedar City. For the Trailblazers, their earliest fall sporting events are scheduled to begin in August with both soccer teams and their volleyball team participating in their first games as a Division I program.
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