Questions swirl as UNC maps out return of football players to campus

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina's athletic department released its Roadmap to Return on Friday, a comprehensive plan to slowly welcome its student-athletes back onto campus and back into training.

The football team will be first out of the gate, with the coaches and the first players arriving back on campus June 12.

"I'm gonna go back to work, do the best job that I can do. My leadership has never been more important than it is right now" UNC head coach Mack Brown said.

Brown is excited. He's also realistic though. Getting players back on campus is just the first step.

"Is this all about football? No. It's about us and our medical staff knowing that we're keeping our staff and our players safe," Brown said.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham wants the parents of the players entrusted to them to know that they will do everything in their power to keep them protected.

"There's still some anxiety associated with it," Cunningham said. "Will it be safe? Will it be safe for my son or daughter, and how can you ensure that it will be? You know, we can't ensure that it will be, but we can do the best we can to provide a safe environment with the best standards."

Carolina's football players will be brought back in four waves, tested at least twice and housed together in single rooms at the Parker dorm.

"We will be wearing masks and players will be wearing masks throughout the building when you're outside of your office" Brown explained, "everybody will be working with social distancing."

That's obviously a big ask for a group of rowdy college kids.

"All the guys want to come back and see their buddies," Brown added.

But it's also the way it needs to be. Once on campus, they'll be discouraged from returning home. The trick now -- picking which players to bring back first since they all want in ASAP. Brown said there are a million considerations on that front.

"Are we better off bringing older ones back and getting them ready to play? Are we better off understanding the older ones are going to be in better shape and be stronger and have better places to work out than the younger ones? So bring the younger ones in but don't have the old ones upset that the young ones are coming back and you're not? It's a real morale issue," he said.

Exactly how they'll proceed with fall camp remains to be determined. Cunningham stressed that those are medical more than football decisions, however important the game is to the department's bottom line.

"If it is safe for us to play football and have competition, we'll do it. If it's not safe we won't," he said.

Though actual football remains maybe still a distant dream, this is at least a start.

"We can finally see some some hope and some direction and some excitement for the future" Brown said.

  • June 1 - Facilities staff members
  • June 8 - Sports Medicine staff
  • June 12 - Coaching staffs for football, men's basketball and women's basketball
  • June 12-July 1 - Football student-athletes, in four separate groups (June 12, 19, 26, 29)
  • June 15 - Strength and Conditioning, Equipment and Administration staff members
  • June 22 - Coaching staffs for field hockey, volleyball, men's and women's soccer and cross country
  • July 6 - Men's and women's basketball student-athletes
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