Virginia Tech football practice

Virginia Tech safeties coach Justin Hamilton instructs players during warmups on Aug. 2, 2019. 

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech is one of three ACC football teams that entered the coronavirus-related suspension of athletics before conducting a single spring practice.

And with universities across the country cancelling all athletic activities through the end of the 2019-20 academic calendar, the chances of making any of those workout up is remote.

Virginia Tech was scheduled to hold its first practice on Saturday. Virginia and North Carolina were scheduled to start spring practice this week as well.

Clemson (nine) and Louisville (seven) were the only teams in the conference to have more than five practices. They opened spring camp in February, along with NC State, Boston College and Wake Forest. Georgia Tech led the ACC Coastal with five practices before things shut down.

Could teams make up those missed practices (or at least a portion of them) in the summer if conditions permit? That’s an issue the NCAA is working through right now.

“NCAA leadership and membership committees are identifying and working through the considerable implications related to the decision to cancel remaining winter and all spring championships in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” NCAA spokesperson Emily James told The Roanoke Times. “While some decisions can be made quickly like the suspension of recruiting activity, others may take time to reach a conclusion. As details become available, we will share with our membership and the public.”

The closest the NCAA governing constitution comes to addressing the issue is an amendment put in place by the board of directors in 2005 allowing universities to delay a portion of the season because of severe inclement weather.

There is no similar clause in place for spring practice.

Football teams are permitted 15 postseason practice sessions according to NCAA guidelines (under bylaw 17.10.6.5) within a period of 34 consecutive calendar days, with strict limitations on how many practices can include contact and tackling.

The NCAA lays out a nine-week summer conditioning period (bylaw 17.10.6.1.1) between the conclusion of the academic year and report date for preseason practice. Student-athletes are given one week off (referred to as student-athlete discretionary time) during that period.

The rules prohibit summer practice, but leaves some wiggle room for the NCAA board of directors to issue changes.

“Practice that is organized or financially supported by a member institution shall be prohibited during the summer unless specifically authorized in the bylaws (e.g., foreign tour) or through official interpretations,” the rules state.

The Roanoke Times also reached out to the ACC to see if conference officials support the idea, but a spokesperson said they aren’t commenting on the status of spring sports beyond the statement they put out last week extending the cancellations of athletic activities.

Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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