As a Division I program, UMass Athletics provides student athletes, many of whom are on an athletic scholarship, an opportunity to train and compete at the highest level of intercollegiate sports. These activities, which include training and team practices, cannot be conducted remotely and require access to campus facilities. 

As evidenced by the Fall Semester, given the resources, practices and protocols that are unique to the student-athlete population, the program has been effective in inhibiting spread of the virus and protecting public health, and the following recommendations reflect that standing.  

Number of Students

  1. In the spring term, we will have competition for fall, winter, and spring teams, since fall 2020 sports seasons were postponed. Since 20 of our 21 sports will be in a competitive season in spring 2021, we recommend all student-athletes (approximately 650 in total) return to use campus facilities.
  2. Approximately 50% to 60% of returning student-athletes will return to campus housing assignments.
  3. Our recommendation is that teams will return across various dates in January. We will have a breakdown of return dates by the end of October.
  4. Football, the only fall sport to have played in 2020, will return when residence halls and dining facilities are open for all students.
  5. Athletics will be prepared to release team return dates and game schedules for the spring term to the public by December 15. 

Which students

  1. Priority for the date of return will be based on when the competitive season commences for each sport. For example, the winter sports of men’s and women’s basketball and ice hockey will remain on campus during the holiday break because they have scheduled games every week from November 20 to March 10. A spring sport example, men’s and women’s lacrosse would come back as one of the first groups in January because they start games on February 13.

Related recommendations

  • Students invited back will live on and off campus. On-campus students will agree to specific COVID-19 residential rules (to be determined before housing assignments are selected).
  • Students will not be required to return to campus and may opt out of athletics participation without negatively impacting their roster status or athletic financial aid, if applicable. (Flexibility and choice for students is paramount.)
  • Athletics will have a combination of on- and off-campus students returning in January who will need access to campus facilities (athletics spaces, academic facilities, dining, etc.). Due to expected travel for competition in and out of the region, we recommend limiting student-athlete exposure to other students by segmenting student-athletes in athletics-specific housing on campus. 


  • All athletes and staff will be tested at least twice a week (scheduled in detail). A few sports will have NCAA or league mandates to test more frequently, such as three or four times a week.   


  • A January student-athlete return is typical for the athletics department so the financial impact was forecast as part of the FY21 budgeting process. In addition, the department has planned for the room/board budget impact of having student-athletes on campus for spring 2021.