Razorback Athletes Return to Campus Soon

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – Returning Razorbacks football players, men’s and women’s basketball players, men’s and women’s cross country runners and women’s soccer and volleyball players to campus June 8 should cure much homesickness.

Most are sick of home.

At this  life stage for students it’s easy to get sick of home for extended periods.

And for parents to get sick of them being home that long.

Such are the rites somewhat leaving the nest into young adulthood.

It’s already a period overextended for Razorbacks athletes and their folks.

Because of  safety measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus cover-19 pandemic, collegiate athletes have been   sent home since mid-March with all intercollegiate sports and practices cancelled. University of Arkansas classes moved online remain only online into the summer with plans  tentatively formulating for fall semester classes on campus.

First with questionnaires then with Zoom sessions, Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek  explained to parents of Razorbacks the procedures and precautions reopening June 8  the UA weight rooms  and facilities for athletes’ “voluntary” conditioning.

Apparently seldom was heard a discouraging word.

“I can tell you with great assurance that we didn’t get any questions or concerns about student-athletes, from parents about returning their student-athletes to our campus,” Yurachek said.  “I felt like the Q-and-A document, and then these Zoom calls answered many of the questions. I think the parents of the majority of our student-athletes, have great confidence in returning their sons and daughters to our campus.”

 Surprised no parent said they were keeping their son at daughter at home?

“I think if they’re like me and they’ve had their children living at home for the past seven or eight weeks, nine weeks, they’re ready to them out of the house,” Yurachek said, smiling.  “I say that with some levity.”

And some truth.  Fact is many Razorbacks of all sports with off campus housing returned to  Fayetteville since April or before.

Most are more than ready to get back to organized lifting and running with their teammates.

It can be different, though, with the freshman reporting away from home to a university for the first time.  Especially under these conditions which forbids coaching from the actual coaches of their sport until their preseason practices officially begin.

So Arkansas’ true freshmen, whether in the sports starting their conditioning June 8, the sports conducted over the winter of men’s and women’s indoor track, women’s gymnastics and women’s swimming and diving starting their voluntary conditioning on June 22, or the spring sports, baseball, women’s softball, men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s tennis starting their conditioning June 29, won’t be allowed to report until June 29.

Arkansas postponing incoming  true freshmen, (December high school graduates who reported to the UA for the spring semester can report when their teammates do) was not mandated by the NCAA or the SEC. So can transfer athletes.

“The decision to hold freshman back to the 29th was really a decision I made,” Yurachek said.  “It’s hard enough to make an adjustment from being a high school senior to a freshman to a college campus. I didn’t want that adjustment to be where you didn’t have an opportunity to work with your coaches and develop a relationship with your coaches. The transfer student-athletes have been through that experience whether you are a grad transfer or a regular transfer.”

Plans are set limiting the number of athletes working out in the weight rooms simultaneously and  coronavirus testing those reporting symptoms.

“Based on the recommendation of the SEC task force, our student-athletes, before they will be allowed to get into any of our facilities they’ll have to pass a robust  physical exam,” Yurachek said.  “There will be daily screenings for symptoms, they’ll be temperature screen, they’ll be asked to maintain social distancing. There will be scheduled workouts to manage a limited capacity that follow the Arkansas Department of Health guidelines. They’ll be a coordinated entry and exit procedure to eliminate cross traffic and each student-athlete will be responsible for sanitizing their own individual workout stations.”

Contingencies are set for  any athletes testing covid-19 positive, Yurachek said.

“We have a plan to handle that,” Yurachek said.

And daily Plans B through Z adjusting and readjusting.

“We have to be able to adjust on the fly,”Yurachek said.   “We’re used to having things a certain way in college athletics, but our environment is changing and it’s changing every day.”

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