With the college football season approaching, the Virginia football program announced on Friday that it will return to Grounds on July 5. The team will start training camp Aug. 9 in advance of its season opener against Georgia on Sept. 7.
The July 5 return date is optional for players. Mandatory workouts begin on July 15.
“I’m going to coach the team and do the very best I can in keeping them safe and keeping them well and keeping them growing and progressing in these unique and challenging times, and for our players that aren’t returning, there’s no penalty,” Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall said on Packer and Durham. “They’ll have their scholarships. I’m anxious to continue and develop and navigate this process at the very highest level and try to do what’s right.”
Players will have their scholarships honored for the entire academic year, even if they opt not to return to grounds due to COVID-19 concerns.
Mendenhall says he thinks it’s debatable if the process for programs returning to workouts needs to begin now, but he also acknowledged the importance of returning soon if a program wants to be prepared for a season starting in September. Based on NCAA guidelines and the upcoming season, the Cavaliers feel the need to start preparing as a group to be physically ready for games in the fall.
For the athletes that do return to grounds, they’ll receive COVID-19 education, according to a release from UVa. This includes print and video resources from the CDC and NCAA.
Additionally, the UVa health system will test student-athletes and staff for COVID-19. Positive tests will be reported to the Thomas Jefferson Health District or the Virginia Department of Health and results will be given to the program’s team physicians.
Based on recent guidelines for a return to play from the NCAA, Virginia will use the following schedule ahead of its Sept. 7 season opener.
July 5-14: Voluntary team activity
July 15-25: Required activity (eight hours per week)
July 26-Aug. 8: Required activity (20 hours per week)
Aug. 9: Fall training camp opens
For fall training camp, there is a five-day acclimation period followed by the opportunity for 25 on-field practices. Other programs with Sept. 5 opening games can start training camp on Aug. 7, per NCAA guidelines. The Cavaliers will start two days later due to their Monday game against Georgia.
UVa’s release also mentions that the athletic program has not yet made a final decision regarding fan attendance.
“As more information regarding seating capacity at Scott Stadium becomes available this summer, it will be communicated to ticket holders and supporters,” the release said.