NCAA recommends face coverings during competitions in new return-to-sport guidelines

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FILE – In this Wednesday, March 18, 2015 file photo, The NCAA logo is on the court as work continues at The Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Imagine an NCAA Tournament with no fans in the arenas. What normally would be thought an impossibility isn’t so far-fetched as the United States and the rest of the world attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

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. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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