NCAA releases next step in ‘return-to-play’ plan for fall sports

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The NCAA, in conjunction with the “Power 5” conferences, released its “return-to-sport” guidelines and protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday.

The NCAA’s newest recommendations put an emphasis on testing and local health guidelines.

The NCAA is recommending all student-athletes in high-contact risk sports to be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of an upcoming game. High-risk sports would include football, volleyball, basketball, soccer and wrestling.

Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reported exclusively on Thursday morning that any athlete confirmed positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days, and the athlete cannot return until he/she is symptom-free for three days.

The NCAA also recommends that member schools follow the health guidelines set by each local community. This will likely be the biggest barrier for a return to college athletics as universities attempt to coordinate and follow the rules of health authorities across the country.

This week, the Austin-Travis County health authority ordered local public and private schools to remain closed for in-person learning until after the first week of September. Sports and extracurriculars are also to remain postponed until in-person learning resumes. The local order can’t/doesn’t include colleges or universities, but it does shed light on the potential for confusion with schools across the nation answering to different authorities.

Additionally, universities will be required to have a checklist for keeping athletes safe against COVID-19 while in practice and game play. A majority of the requirements are standard procedure at this point for most universities, attempting a return to sports. Each university should have daily health checks, require face-coverings when “appropriate” and implement a testing strategy for all activities.

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