Collegiate Sports in the Fall? Maybe, As NCAA Offers Guidance

Photo by Fliry Vorru, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Holding out the increasingly likely possibility that there will, indeed, be collegiate sports in the fall, the NCAA this week released Action Plan Considerations to help schools mitigate risks of COVID-19 spread as staff and student-athletes return.

The document, compiled by the NCAA Sport Science Institute, in collaboration with the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, updates the NCAA’s Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport recommendations, provides specific guidelines and practices that schools should consider as they develop their own plans.

In addition to repeating already-accepted practices such as maintaining good personal hygiene, wearing a face mask and remaining six feet away from other people whenever possible, the guidelines also advise schools to test and screen student-athletes as often as possible. However, realizing there remains limited access to COVID-19 tests, the NCAA suggests that athletic trainers and coaching staff remain hypervigilant of any potential symptoms.

The document further advises collaboration from school athletics departments with their respective institution’s return plans and any facilities outside of their college campuses.

“Every community is different, and schools may return to campus at different times. But each will have to balance the need to return with the top priority of protecting student-athlete health and well-being,” says NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline. “Until there is a vaccine in place, medical experts recommend adopting specific practices – including testing and social distancing when possible – and having plans in place for stopping spread if and when staff or students test positive for the coronavirus.”

For more information on the NCAA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: ncaa.org/covid-19.