The NCAA says college football players should be tested for COVID-19 at least 72 hours before a game, 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.