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UND planning to re-open its facilities to athletes throughout June

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UND Athletic Director Bill Chaves introduces head men's basketball coach Paul Sather during a press conference in June 2019 at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

A plan to re-open UND's facilities to athletes on a voluntary basis was finalized Friday, the school announced.

The plan is for facilities to be re-opened throughout the month of June on a rolling basis. No exact dates have been set yet, because it's dependent upon when each facility is ready to re-open.

"The safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff is paramount," UND athletic director Bill Chaves said. "We are taking a careful and cautious approach to welcoming our athletes back for voluntary athletics-related activities on a facility-by-facility basis. We’ve formulated a plan in concert with our President’s Executive Council that allows for the safe use of these areas."

A recent ruling by the NCAA allows schools to open facilities to athletes on a voluntary basis beginning Monday. NDSU announced earlier this week it will open football facilities Monday and others throughout June.

UND has several different facilities for its athletes: Ralph Engelstad Arena, Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, Memorial Stadium, High Performance Center, Hyslop Sports Center, Bronson Field, King's Walk Golf Course and Choice Health and Fitness.

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It is expected that the school will get each facility prepared one-by-one.

"Having our athletes in our own weight rooms and facilities requires them to adhere to protocols we’ll have in place with guidance from the NCAA, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the state and UND,” Chaves said.

Two of the facilities -- Kings Walk Golf Course and Choice Health and Fitness -- have already been re-opened to the public.

The school says "some safety measures include but are not limited to education, self-isolation in phases and wellness checks for each athlete before entry into a facility."

The re-opening of facilities will be for voluntary workouts, not mandatory team activities, which were shut down by the coronavirus pandemic in March.

The outbreak halted all winter sports.

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A couple of UND winter sports teams were in the midst of outstanding campaigns.

The men's hockey team was 26-5-4 and at No. 1 in the Pairwise Rankings when the season was called off. The Fighting Hawks were the odds-on favorite in Las Vegas to win the NCAA national championship. The season was canceled a day before the playoffs were set to begin.

The men's tennis team was on a school-record nine-game winning streak when its season was called off.

Spring sports also were called off due to the pandemic. The NCAA ruled that spring athletes would retain one more year of eligibility.

So far, no changes have been made to UND's sports schedule for the 2020-21 season.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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