Oklahoma waiting till July 1 to reopen facilities for football players

Oklahoma is taking a cautious approach on letting football players back on campus, announcing Tuesday that it will reopen facilities for voluntary workouts on July 1 -- a month after the NCAA is allowing activities to resume.

"As I have stated before, we are going to approach this return with extreme care," coach Lincoln Riley said in a news release. "We have received tremendous guidance from highly respected medical professionals, and we will follow their recommendations. We understand that the well-being of our student-athletes is at the top of our responsibilities. That's why we will be diligent in how we manage everything from the way we relate to each other to the cleaning of our facilities and beyond.

"Our medical personnel have told us that the safest thing we can do is keep our players off campus for as long as possible. We chose the latest point that we could bring them back and still have enough time to prepare."

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said the school will bring back athletes in other sports in phases.

"We want to make sure that our staff can focus on each returning group appropriately and thoroughly," he said, noting that the vast majority of athletic department staff will continue to telecommute.

Oklahoma staff and student-athletes will be screened before entering any facility and workout groups will include only 10 or fewer participants. The school also says it has a designated housing facility for any student-athlete that tests positive for COVID-19.

Riley has been outspoken about what he said was a rush to return to campus.

"All the talk about these schools wanting to bring players back on June 1 is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard," Riley said in a conference call with reporters on May 14. "We've got to be patient. We have one good shot at it. Every day they come in could be a day we could've gotten better, learned more about the virus, the [personal protection equipment] gets better, a day closer to a vaccine, the testing capabilities get better. It's just not worth it."

The SEC voted on Friday to allow athletes to return on June 8. Ohio State also has targeted that date. The Big 12 has not set a date for its schools across the board, with commissioner Bob Bowlsby saying it's up to health experts to determine when it's safe for student-athletes to return.

He said last week that the league needs to be "up and running" by mid-July if the season is going to start on time.