NCAA: COVID surge threatens fall sports

'We cannot place our student-athletes at greater risk than the general student body,' conference official says
By: | July 17, 2020
New NCAA safety guidelines urge colleges and universities to test student-athletes—and get results—within 72 hours of "high contact risk sports" competition. (GettyImages/FatCamera)New NCAA safety guidelines urge colleges and universities to test student-athletes—and get results—within 72 hours of "high contact risk sports" competition. (GettyImages/FatCamera)

In issuing new college sports safety guidelines, NCAA leaders warned this week that teams may not play this fall if the current coronavirus surge is not controlled.

Leading the NCAA’s updated guidance is a requirement for testing and results within 72 hours of “high contact risk sports” competition.

“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,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “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 etter handle on the pandemic.”

The NCAA Sport Science Institute’s “Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition” also encourages teams to practice outdoors whenever possible.


More from UB: Coaching during COVID-19


Athletes and all team personnel should also conduct daily health checks. They should also wear face coverings and social distance when appropriate during raining, competition and outside of athletics. For example, athletes on sidelines should wear masks.

The NCAA also expects its member schools to follow public health standards set by local officials in their communities.

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

COVID cancels some fall sports

A number of colleges, universities and athletic conferences have already decided teams won’t be able to compete safely this fall.


More from UB: Why Stanford University will cut 11 varsity sports programs


The Patriot LeaguePennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the New England Small College Athletic Conference have canceled all fall sports due to the worsening COVID crisis.

“It has become apparent that the safe conduct of sports under the guidelines of social distancing is untenable for our members,” Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Commissioner Steve Murray said in a statement. “We cannot place our student-athletes at greater risk than the general student body.”

The Ivy League made a similar announcement last week.


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.