The NCAA has issued a uniform standard for COVID-19 testing protocols, including requiring college players who test positive to miss at least 10 days of competition, it announced Thursday.
"Any recommendation on a pathway toward a safe return to sport will depend on the national trajectory of COVID-19 spread," NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline said. "The idea of sport resocialization is predicated on a scenario of reduced or flattened infection rates."
"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. "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."
In addition to players who test positive sitting out at least 10 days (from either the date of the positive test or onset of symptoms), players who have contact with a person who tests positive will be required to miss at least two full weeks.
Players who have "high-risk" contact with someone - which is defined as being within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes while one or both parties aren't wearing a mask - must complete the 14-day quarantine even if they test negative for the coronavirus.
Teams must test players using the standard polymerase chain reaction test within 72 hours of games. Coaches aren't required to be tested, though they must wear masks on the sidelines if not.
Additionally, daily self-health checks should be performed by all student-athletes and athletics personnel before they enter any athletics facility.
"Out-of-season" testing - outside of mandatory workouts and games - will be left to the discretion of individual schools.
The document also outlines five conditions that could result in a school pausing or discontinuing athletic activities:
Administrators are most concerned that rapid rises in cases could overwhelm local public health departments and compromise colleges' ability to complete enough testing to play, according to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger.