The Big 12 will let football programs hold voluntary on-campus workouts beginning June 15, a move that was approved Friday during a vote among the conference's board of directors.
The decision comes on the heels of the Southeastern Conference's decision earlier Friday to allow football players to begin on-campus voluntary workouts June 8.
Not only will Big 12 football players be able to use school athletic facilities, but they also will have access to support staff.
"We remain optimistic and are continuing to plan for football this season, and this is another positive step towards preparing for that," Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. "We were able to get some of our football coaches and staff in the offices this week, and all went well with the health and safety measures we put into place for that. We've also been working on plans, procedures and health and safety measures in order to get student-athletes on campus.
"Given the approval today by the Big 12 and our campus that we can bring football student-athletes back for voluntary workouts with our strength and conditioning staff on June 15, the wheels are now fully in motion to begin preparations for that."
The start of voluntary workouts for football players will be the first wave in the return of student-athletes to Big 12 campuses. Volleyball, soccer and cross country athletes can return July 1 in advance of their fall seasons.
Student-athletes in winter sports such as men's and women's basketball and can access Big 12 athletic facilities on July 15.
Instead of announcing blanket precautions for athletes to follow amid the coronavirus pandemic, member institutions will require individuals to adhere to all individual state and local protocols. All Big 12 institutions are located in five states: Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.
Before the Big 12's ruling, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said Friday in an interview with Norman radio station KREF, "One could argue that there are advantages for getting the student athletes back on campus as soon as possible, 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."
--Field Level Media