NCAA lays out guidance for athlete testing, other safety protocols for college sports
The NCAA Sport Science Institute released its latest return-to-sports guidelines and recommendations Thursday for athletes facing a return amid the COVID-19 pandemic at the same time the Power 5 conferences are working on similar medical planning.
"This document lays out the advice of health care professionals as to how to resume college sports if we can achieve an environment where COVID-19 rates are manageable," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. "If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic."
The recommendations from the NCAA encompass a wide array of suggestions, including:
• Testing and results within a 72-hour window prior to competition in high contact risk sports;
• Daily self-health checks for athletes;
• Appropriate use of face coverings and social distancing during training, competition and outside of athletics.
“Any recommendation on a pathway toward a safe return to sport will depend on the national trajectory of COVID-19 spread,” said Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer. “The idea of sport resocialization is predicated on a scenario of reduced or flattened infection rates.”
The Power 5 conferences have come together to produce six-page document that includes more specific details, according to the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated:
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• Athletes who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms/positive test, and until they’ve gone three days without symptoms;
• All individuals with high-risk exposure must be quarantined for 14 days;
• “High-risk” individuals include those who are within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes while one or both parties is not wearing a mask, or anyone participating in face-to-face or contact drills against an infected athlete;
• Face shields should be used in sports when possible;
• Masks should be worn by everyone on a sideline.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences have already adopted conference-only football schedules for their teams, while the Big 12, ACC and SEC are waiting until later in the month to make a determination on football.
“I believe it’s too early to be making those decisions,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the Dallas Morning News following a Tuesday meeting of conference athletic directors. “Frankly, we haven’t been advised to do that by our scientists and medical advisers. We’ve been advised to move forward slowly and constantly re-evaluate, and that’s what we’ll keep doing until we’re told it’s inadvisable.”