July 17, 2020
The NCAA Sport Science Institute released an updated report to help provide guidance to schools to help protect student-athletes and prevent the spread of COVID-19 Thursday. Per the NCAA.org release, “the guidelines are designed to inform schools in responding appropriately based on their specific circumstances and in the best interest of returning college athletes’ health and well-being.”
And while these are general recommendations, the NCAA noted that “many sports require close, personal contact and require specially crafted guidelines.” Among the biggest recommendations were:
- Daily self-health checks.
- The appropriate use of face coverings and social distancing during training, competition and outside of athletics.
- Testing strategies for all athletics activities, including pre-season, regular season and post-season.
- Testing and results within 72 hours of competition in high contact risk sports.
“Any recommendation on a pathway toward a safe return to sport will depend on the national trajectory of COVID-19 spread,” said Brian Hainline, NCAA chief medical officer. “The idea of sport resocialization is predicated on a scenario of reduced or flattened infection rates.”
“When we made the extremely difficult decision to cancel last spring’s championships it was because there was simply no way to conduct them safely,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “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. Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.”
Per the NCAA release, the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) COVID-19 Working Group, Autonomy-5 Medical Advisory Group, National Medical Association, and NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports Prevention and Performance Subcommittee consulted on the recommendations. The NCAA also considered recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The full list includes recommendations for different situations, such as how to mitigate risk while athletes are training outdoors.4COMMENTS
The document represents an updated plan, “providing guidelines and practices that schools should consider as they develop their own mitigation plans.” Schools have been having varied levels of success with their own plans, leading to uncertainty about just what the 2020 season could look like. The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences have already announced that they will be halting non-conference games for the upcoming season, while other conferences have said that they plan to take a longer look before making a decision one way or another.
The NCAA canceled its end-of-season tournament in college basketball around when the outbreak began to take off in the U.S., with spring sports electing to halt their own seasons shortly afterward.