The NCAA Sport Science Institute has issued a new set of guidelines to ensure the protection of student-athletes as they train for their upcoming seasons in the midst of a pandemic.
These guidelines, according to the NCAA, are meant to help schools act in the “best interest” of the health and well-being of returning college athletes. Notably, the NCAA recommends the “appropriate use of face coverings and socials distancing during training, competition and outside of athletics.”
Other recommendations include:
- Daily self-health checks
- Testing strategies for all athletic activities, including preseason, regular season and postseason
- Testing and results within 72 hours of competition in high contact risk sports
The recommendations also acknowledge that many sports will require more specific guidelines to ensure the safety of participants.
“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 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 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.”
WVU Athletics has already aligned itself with the NCAA’s recommendation on testing. Athletic director Shane Lyons told West Virginia Illustrated this week that student-athletes are being tested for the virus that causes COVID-19 once per week. But ensuring the safety of athletes comes at a high cost: Lyons now projects that WVU could spend more than $1.5 million in testing this year, assuming a full year of athletic competition takes place.
The NCAA says it consulted the following organizations to develop these recommendations: 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. The guidelines also take recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into consideration.