New Bobcat Hoops Coach Danny Sprinkles (copy) (copy)

Montana State director of athletics Leon Costello introduces head basketball coach Danny Sprinkle at a welcome ceremony at Norm Asbjornson Hall.

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Montana State athletes will be allowed access to some facilities for voluntary athletics-related activities starting on June 1, the university announced Friday.

Earlier this week, the NCAA allowed Division I programs to begin voluntary workouts on that date, but football and basketball cannot start required practices through June 30. The NCAA had disallowed any on-campus activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

MSU made this announcement less than two hours after the NCAA updated its ruling on Friday. Gov. Steve Bullock said earlier this week that the second phase of Montana’s reopening plan will also begin June 1.

“We have to be ready at a drop of a hat to be ready to make decisions based on what’s going on,” Costello said during a video press conference in May. “Just looking ahead and having contingency plans is vital for these situations.”

MSU administration is currently developing a schedule for using athletic facilities while practicing social distancing and adhering to other public health related recommendations.

Costello had said getting athletes back on campus for any sort of workouts, while abiding by health and safety guidelines, was the first step to returning to competition. He identified eventually having grouped practices as the top hurdle in returning to sports in the fall.

Costello said in a press release Friday that health and safety is top priority. He added MSU leaders had spoken with Bozeman Health as well as state and local officials to create protocols with the intention of minimizing health risks.

“We’re just taking it step by step,” Costello said. “Obviously with the big picture in mind but just making sure we’re doing the little things to get us back going like everybody else is whether it’s in the community or state or the world. What can we do to work our way back to what is normal knowing it’s going to look different than anything we’ve ever done and any summer that we’ve ever had?”

Costello said MSU is welcoming athletes back to on-campus facilities with a “measured, disciplined approach.” He added MSU’s data-driven and flexible plan relies on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the U.S. Department of Education.

Athletes may return for voluntary activities in phases developed by MSU throughout the summer. Those returning from out of state before June 1 will have to self-quarantine for 14 days, while after that date the self-quarantine length is 10 days.

MSU is also enacting safety measures including a formal check-in process with temperature checks, limited access to areas of workout facilities, thorough cleaning of facilities and equipment in use, multiple sets of workout apparel with mandatory cleaning procedures and the use of face coverings and social distancing where applicable under the guidance of the MSU’s sports medicine staff.

MSU senior associate athletics director Dan Davies said the athletic department talked daily about protocols for having athletes back working out on campus. The university’s rescheduling of the fall semester — beginning on Aug. 17 and ending on Nov. 25 — provided the athletic department more solid footing for moving forward.

Davies, who works with internal operations, said this week that MSU’s weight rooms are littered with sanitizing stations and tools for cleaning.

But he also admitted several variables will be difficult to control. He said his department is anticipating for if an athlete tests positive with coronavirus and is planning for how to handle that. That could include further quarantines with hopes of keeping athletes safe.

“Our training room and weight room staff have spent a lot of time doing research and calling people,” Davies said. “… We’ve got it down, we think, to a really good process. … If we have a situation where we get a (coronavirus) case or two here or there, we’ve got to react and be prepared.”

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Colton Pool can be reached at or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.