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UL football coach Billy Napier's players will be able to return to the facilities for voluntary workouts beginning July 8, the university confirmed Friday.

The first step to getting back to business for the UL athletic department will begin with voluntary in-person workouts being made available to Ragin’ Cajuns football players beginning June 8.

The announcement is the latest in a line of news from conferences around the nation. The Southeastern Conference will also begin voluntary workouts June 8, while the Big 12 and the Pac-12 will begin June 15.

“I think we’re in very good shape,” UL athletic director Bryan Maggard said of the university’s overall strategy to return. “It wouldn’t be fair to compare us to anybody else, but I have a high level of confidence in our university as a whole. Dr. (Joseph) Savoie and the university leadership have really put together a sophisticated approach to start the phasing-in planning for the fall semester. We just happened to be part of the institution that’s going to be starting up slowly earlier.”

While the players will be allowed to return, much will be different. There will be sanitation protocols at 2.5-hour intervals to “allow for workout groups to depart the facility without contact with arriving student-athletes, as well as for the cleaning and sanitization of areas and equipment to occur,” according to the university.

The new mandates also include athletes and staff members wearing masks when entering the facility and while occupying common areas. Masks can only be removed when alone in an office or meeting room. Each athlete and staff member will be required to fill out a health questionnaire and temperature check on a daily basis.

Locker rooms will not be available to the athletes during the summer, so new team rules require them to arrive dressed to work out.

All areas of the sports complex will have an occupancy rate of 25% of maximum capacity.

These voluntary workouts are the first step in the university’s plan to return for the 2020-21 school year.

“We’ve been able to work with campus leadership. Myself and (associate director of athletics for facilities and events) John Dugas are on a community that’s looking at the operational continuity plans for the upcoming summer and semester,” Maggard said. “I feel very good about the plans that are being developed and the plans we’ll have in place, but there’s no amount of planning that can completely mitigate all the risks. But if I were a parent, I would feel very good about my son or daughter returning to this campus as early as June 8.”

The Ragin' Cajuns are scheduled to open their season Sept. 5 against McNeese at Cajun Field.


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.