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NCAA prepares guidelines for fall sports, SEC ponders 10-game slate

By KEITH TAYLOR

Kentucky Today

 

The Southeastern Conference hasn’t released its plans for fall sports, but the NCAA is preparing guidelines for member institutions to follow this season.

Those guidelines have yet to be finalized, but those plans are based on recommendations from the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel and the Autonomy-5 Medical Advisory Group, which represents the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and the Pac-12 and several more medical groups.

The recommendations reported by the Associated Press include:

  • Test results should be obtained within 72 hours of competition for athletes competing in so-called high-contact risk sports, such as football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse.
  • Face shields should be integrated into sports where feasible.
  • Masks should be worn by everyone on a sideline, including when an athlete moves from the playing field to interact with a coach.
  • CDC guidelines should be used for determining when individuals can resume activities after testing positive for COVID-19. Time-based strategy means isolation until 72 hours after recovery and at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared.
  • All individuals with high-risk exposure must be quarantined for 14 days.

“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 better handle on the pandemic.”

The SEC is reportedly considering an 8-2 scheduling model, which would keep eight conference games intact and allow member schools to play two non-conference games, giving schools a 10-game slate.

The SEC  postponed the start of fall sports on Tuesday. The league canceled volleyball, soccer, and cross country competition through Aug. 31. The delay includes exhibition and non-conference contests.

The University of Kentucky announced Monday that 108 team members and 58 staffers tested negative for the coronavirus, while three out of 42 student-athletes in men’s basketball, volleyball and women’s soccer tested positive for the virus through antibody tests.

Overall, 150 student-athletes have returned to campus to participate in voluntary workouts since early June. The men’s soccer team returned to campus last week and is in the midst of COVID-19 screening before beginning voluntary workouts. Those who tested positive for the virus were required to quarantine for two weeks accruing to CDC guidelines and protocols.

The school also has implemented a campus testing plan, which consists of proactive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostic testing for student-athletes who have returned to campus.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.