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NCAA has released their next set of return-to-sports guidelines

The NCAA has released their latest plan and guidelines for a return to play plan. This is third set of such guidelines.

The following guidelines and practices are things that schools should consider as they continue to develop their own plans for their athletes and athletic programs, the NCAA notes.

The release shares:

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. Many sports require close, personal contact and require specially crafted guidelines. Among the recommendations put forth:

  • 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.”

The most interesting part of that release to me as a coach is the testing within 72 hours of competition in high contact risk sports. I can't help but think how coaches have spent time in staff meetings the past three months talking about how practices change and staff duties shift in the wake of a positive test. If the results of those tests take 12 hours (that's an aggressive estimation), teams then have 60 hours to come up with a contingency plan. That's the world we're living in if we ultimately decide to march forward with football this fall.

Here is a summary of some more of the suggested guidelines, including the preferred method of testing, as well.

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See the full release from the NCAA below.

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

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. Many sports require close, personal contact and require specially crafted guidelines. Among the recommendations put forth:

  • 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.”

The recommendations were developed in collaboration with the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory PanelAmerican Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) COVID-19 Working GroupAutonomy-5 Medical Advisory GroupNational Medical Association, and NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports Prevention and Performance Subcommittee. The guidance also takes into consideration recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is the latest update to the initial Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport recommendations, providing guidelines and practices that schools should consider as they develop their own mitigation plans. The previously released Action Plan Considerations offered recommendations to help schools mitigate risks of COVID-19 spread as staff and student-athletes return.

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

Media Contact

Stacey Osburn

NCAA Director of Communications