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Thursday, July 16, 2020

NCAA recommends testing all athletes for COVID-19 within 72 hours of games

Kansas head coach Les Miles talks on the radio to assistants Saturday against Coastal Carolina Saturday night at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019.

Kansas head coach Les Miles talks on the radio to assistants Saturday against Coastal Carolina Saturday night at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019.

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The NCAA handed down its latest guidelines for playing through a pandemic on Thursday while also sounding an alarm: The prospect of having a fall semester with football and other sports is looking grim.

If the games can go on, the NCAA says college athletes should be tested for COVID-19 no more than 72 hours before they play, players with high-risk exposures to the coronavirus should be quarantined for 14 days and everybody on the sideline should wear a mask.

The nation's largest governing body for college sports on Thursday released its latest guidance to help member schools navigate competition during the pandemic, and they come as the prospects of actually playing look grim. Around the country, the number of COVID-19 cases are on the rise and many states have slowed reopenings or reinstated restrictions on some businesses.

“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.”

Earlier in the day, the American Athletic Conference announced it would require all its schools to test football players for COVID-19 at least 72 hours before competition, and the Power Five conferences are expected to require the same from their schools.

The NCAA’s recommendations lay out broader protocols, most of which are expected to be mandated by the Power Five.

Among the highlights:

— Test results should be obtained within 72 hours of competition for athletes competing in so-called high-contact risk sports, such as football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse.

— Face shields should be integrated into sports where feasible.

— Masks should be worn by everyone on a sideline, including when an athlete moves from the playing field to interact with a coach.

— CDC guidelines should be used for determining when individuals can resume activities after testing positive for COVID-19.

— All individuals with high-risk exposure must be quarantined for 14 days.

The final point could be crucial for managing a team this season. Simply being deemed a close contact of someone who tests positive could sideline players for two weeks.

The Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences have been working together on a minimum standard for testing in their leagues that could be used throughout major college football.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced last week that they would play only conference games in football and other sports this fall to help minimize potential disruptions caused by COVID-19.

The Big East joined those leagues Thursday by going conference-only for the fall season, which for the basketball-focused league includes men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross-country, volleyball and field hockey.

Other FBS conferences have not decided yet on scheduling formats for the coming football season, which appears to be in peril because of the surging pandemic.

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said the testing protocols will apply throughout the regular and bowl seasons. More operational protocols are still being finalized, as are testing protocols for other sports.

“We are committed to meeting or exceeding all guidelines and standards recommended by the NCAA and its member institutions in all fall sports, including football,” Aresco said.

Meanwhile, the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference on Thursday became the third Division I conference to say it will not have a fall sports season. The MEAC, comprising 11 historically black colleges and universities, joined fellow FCS conferences the Ivy League and Patriot League in punting on fall football and other sports, with the hopes of making them up in the spring semester if possible.

“Obviously this is an arduous decision because everyone wants to have a fall season for student-athletes, fans and others,” MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas said.

Comments

Jeff Coffman 4 weeks ago

Those restrictions are fairly reasonable.

I would actually say if there was a potential exposure and the person goes on quarantine. I think that after 4 days they should be able to test and clear the player. If you want two negative tests beginning after day 4, I'm fine with that. Basically, you could still be cleared to play the following week.

Many football players already wear the shields and there are several tests in general performed on players. If the players need to add a simple nose screening to improve the health of the team, I believe many would willingly do that.

This doesn't seem like too big of a deal to help move the process forward.

Spencer Goff 3 weeks ago

No chance I would take that test 30-40 times over a five month season if it is the full deep sinus swab. Worst test I have ever taken. I would rather they drew blood, shot me and checked the wound for covid, whatever works.... That test suuuuuuuuuuuuucked. Not even sure the human sinus cavity is intended to have protrusions jabbed in it that often without damaging the tissue. Pretty sure Girod knows it is not a good thing but is like "hey we need sports baby and it ain't my face, pokey pokey!"

For whatever reason, I felt like I mounted that car on South Park that Mr. Garrison invented... I will let you all google it if you don't already know what I mean.

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