NCAA issues next set of return-to-sport guidelines, ‘data points in the wrong direction’ for having fall sports

Sports

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The NCAA Sport Science Institute released its third installment of recommendations to extend previous guidance about the protection of athletes and prevention of community spread of COVID-19.

This new set of recommendations includes daily self-health checks and testing within 72 hours of competition for high-contact risk sports.

“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 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 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.

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