Commissioner Roger Goodell mapped out several phases of protocols in a memo obtained by The Associated Press. The first phase to deal with the coronavirus pandemic would involve a limited number of non-player personnel. That number initially would be 50% of the non-player employees and up to a total of 75 on any single day being approved to be at the facility. But state or local regulations could require a lower number.
The individual clubs would decide which employees could return to the facility and when, once the buildings reopen. No players would be permitted in the facility except to continue therapy and rehabilitation for injuries that were underway when facilities were ordered closed in late March.
Goodell noted that the league is actively working on the next phase of reopening, which will involve both more staffers and players. He said the players’ union is also being consulted on these steps.
In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— The Cleveland Cavaliers are one of a handful of NBA teams planning to reopen their training facilities Friday for individual player workouts. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the team has worked with health officials to ensure players and coaches are safe. Bickerstaff said the league has advised coaches to wear masks and gloves. The team says no one will be allowed to enter the building without having their temperature taken. The NBA is allowing players to voluntarily work out at their team practice facilities under some very specific conditions, and only in places where local and state governments have signed off on such openings.
— NBA teams have been asked to help the Mayo Clinic with a study that could help researchers come closer to finding a solution to the coronavirus problem. The NBA and its players are partnering with Mayo Clinic officials who need volunteers for a study largely centered around antibodies. Teams were told that the study would help doctors understand the prevalence of COVID-19 among infected individuals who were asymptomatic or experienced only mild symptoms. Additional goals of the study include being able to identify more patients who could donate plasma and improve care for patients who are dealing with the coronavirus, plus potentially move researchers closer to a vaccine.
— Four MLS teams allowed players to use team training fields for individual workouts on Wednesday. Sporting Kansas City, Atlanta United, Orlando City and Inter Miami let players in for vigorously controlled voluntary workouts on the first day they were permitted by the league. Nashville, Real Salt Lake, LAFC and Houston are among the league’s 26 teams that plan to start Thursday, with more lined up next week.
— All but one of the 14 schools in the Southeastern Conference have indicated they plan to reopen their campuses for the fall semester, a step widely believed to be needed to resume football and other sports. South Carolina and Tennessee became the latest schools in the nation’s top football conference to announce their plans, joining Alabama, LSU and others. Vanderbilt hasn’t announced its plans for the fall.
— The Big 12 has become the first Power Five conference to say it will hold its football media days virtually. About 500 media members are usually credentialed to attend Big 12 media days, which were scheduled to be held July 21-22 at AT&T Stadium near Dallas.
— The NCAA has approved a waiver that will allow schools to spend below the minimum level on athletic scholarships required to compete in Division I. The Division I Council Coordination Committee approved two other blanket waivers Wednesday that had been requested by several conferences in recent weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Basketball and football players will be allowed to participate in summer athletic activities without being enrolled in school.
— Fans will be allowed to enter baseball stadiums Friday for games in Taiwan for the first time this season. It is part of a gradual easing of restrictions amid the pandemic. The China Professional Baseball League said up to 1,000 people would be permitted to enter ballparks after an agreement between the league and Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center.
— A person with knowledge of negotiations tells The Associated Press the Maryland Jockey Club and NBC Sports have set aside three possible dates for the running of the Preakness. The NBC affiliate in Baltimore reported the Preakness will be run Oct. 3. The person tells the AP that is one of the three possible dates, along with one each in July and August. The Preakness was originally set for May 16 as the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The uncertain timeline allows for the possibility of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont being run out of order.
— The French Tennis Federation says it will refund tickets purchased for the French Open because of uncertainty related to the coronavirus pandemic. The clay-court tournament at Roland Garros was initially slated to be held May 24-June 7 but has been rescheduled for Sept. 20-Oct. 4. The FFT says it “has taken the decision to cancel and refund all tickets purchased for the original dates of Roland Garros.” Refunds will be received by end of May and a new ticketing procedure will be opened if the tournament goes ahead.
— Germany’s Bundesliga (BOON’-dehsh-lee-guh) has been given the go-ahead to resume its top two soccer divisions this month. German soccer league managing director Christian Seifert announced Thursday that the Bundesliga season will resume on May 16 with matches played in empty stadiums. The announcement comes one day after Chancellor Angela Merkel (AHN’-geh-lah MEHR’-kuhl) and the country’s 16 state governors agreed the season could resume. The Bundesliga was suspended on March 13 with nine rounds remaining. Seifert says the league will begin again where it left off.
— One top-tier Italian soccer team is resisting moves to restart the season. Brescia’s (BREH’-shuhz) captain says his entire squad opposes resuming the soccer season amid the coronavirus pandemic. He tells an Italian newspaper that “we don’t feel safe.” Most clubs in the top Italian league are resuming training on an individual basis this week but last-place Brescia is one of the holdouts.
— The Kontinental Hockey League says it won’t name a champion after it stopped the season part-way through the playoffs because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Russia-based league shut down in March but didn’t immediately decide how the final standings would be determined. The KHL says the eight teams still in the playoffs at the time the season ended will be ruled as jointly finishing in the top eight positions. The league is widely considered
— WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman expects professional boxing to return without spectators and with judges officiating by video from home. Sulaiman said the World Boxing Council has produced a protocol for fights during the coronavirus pandemic that limit, for instance, a four-fight card to about 40-50 people at a venue. Those numbers include one handler for each fighter, boxing commission supervisors, media and TV production crews.