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Some Illinois student-athletes will begin returning to campus June 3

Football and men’s basketball players are up first.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Illinois Michael Allio-USA TODAY Sports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois’ Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced that it is preparing to bring groups of student-athletes back to campus for voluntary summer training starting June 3.

According to a news release, the student-athletes will return according to a plan developed by DIA and led by its sports medicine staff, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, Carle physicians, McKinley Health Center, and the UNiversity’s committee developing protocols for returning to campus.

Earlier this week, the NCAA allowed for universities and conferences to allow students to resume on-campus workouts starting June 1.

The release said football and men’s basketball student-athletes will arrive first in small groups, and undergo ongoing viral and antibody testing, initial quarantining, contact tracing and arrangements fro extended quarantine. DIA said it expects student-athletes from other team sports, including women’s basketball, volleyball and soccer to return by early July.

Workouts will begin for football and men’s basketball in mid-June, which will include daily symptom checks, locker room and shower procedures, and guidance on group size of workouts.

In a Zoom call with media Friday afternoon, Illinois Direct of Athletics Josh Whitman said his plans are based on three phases: Retreat, Regroup & Learn, and Advance. He said the department has finally moved to the advance phase.

Whitman explained this plan includes the measures that will be taken if is a student-athlete were to test positive, including quarantine and contact tracing.

“The entire plan is built around that,” Whitman said.

The DIA stressed that all workouts will be voluntary, and will honor any financial aid commitments for student-athletes who don’t participate due to COVID-19.

Whitman added that he knows the word voluntary in college athletics sometimes holds differently — but he wants to make sure athletes know “participation in this plan is completely voluntary. It’s critical that our student-athletes know they have a choice.”

When looking ahead into what fans could expect in the fall, Whitman said each phase is driven by what’s best for the student-athletes, staff and the Champagin-Urbana community.

“For the fall, will consider similar considerations for fans,” Whitman said.

With the pandemic still rearing its head and cases rising across the country, Whitman said he is aware there is a risk.

“We all recognize no matter what we do, the risk of infection is always there.”