NCAA Issues Return-To-Sport Guidelines, Nothing Mandatory Yet

NCAA Issues Return-To-Sport Guidelines, Nothing Mandatory Yet

More NCAA guidelines provide updated recommendations about a return-to-sport but say nothing of what will be mandatory as of yet.

The NCAA Sport Science Institute released the Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition Thursday afternoon. Among the recommendations are daily self-health checks, use of appropriate face coverings and social distancing during during both within and outside of athletic situations, and testing strategies.

One big recommendation is for “testing and results within 72 hours of competition in high contact risk sports.” That means the Thursday and Friday ahead of games could be when pseudo injury lists would be announced to include players out for the next game due to both illness and injury, though most schools, including Nebraska, have not spoken in depth to injuries on a week-to-week basis in the past.

NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline says in the announcement, “Any recommendation on a pathway toward a safe return to sport will depend on the national trajectory of COVID-19 spread. The idea of sport resocialization is predicated on a scenario of reduced or flattened infection rates.”

(Graph from Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition)

In a subsequent tweet from the official NCAA news Twitter account, Inside the NCAA says “the variations in approach to reopening America for business and recreation have correlated with a considerable spike in cases in recent weeks.”

“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 the announcement. “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 from the NCAA remain just that: recommendations. They could be adopted soon, though. Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reports that the Power 5 conferences are working to release universal, minimum COVID-19 testing standards for fall sports.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences previously announced they are moving to conference-only competition for this fall. Today’s NCAA recommendations and even a universal standard for COVID-19 across the Power 5 is unlikely to bring non-conference games back for those two conferences or others that move in the same direction.