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NCAA issues extended recommendations for return to sports

The recommended guidelines, devised by the NCAA Sport Science Institute, include daily self-health checks, the use of face coverings, and social distancing during training, competition and outside of athletics.

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The NCAA announced Thursday comprehensive return-to-sport testing guidelines to be implemented during the 2020 college football season.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — To protect athletes from COVID-19, the NCAA announced Thursday comprehensive return-to-sport testing guidelines to be implemented during the 2020 college football season.

The recommended guidelines, devised by the NCAA Sport Science Institute, include daily self-health checks; the use of face coverings and social distancing during training, competition and outside of athletics; testing strategies for all athletics activities; and testing and results within 72 hours of competition in high contact risk sports. 

“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 points 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.” — NCAA President Mark Emmert

“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,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “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 points 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.”

“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.”

The American Athletic Conference announced Thursday that its football players are required to be tested 72 hours before competition. 

“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,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco.

Last week, the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced that they will be playing conference-only schedules this fall. BYU saw five of its games canceled due to those decisions. 

The Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 are expected to make decisions about possible schedule changes by the end of July.

The NCAA Sport Science Institute has released the Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition to provide updated recommendations about the protection of athletes and prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

For more information on the NCAA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit ncaa.org/covid-19.