STRICT GUIDELINES WILL BE PART OF RETURN TO PAC-12 SPORTS – “Right now we’ve got reason to be, let’s say, cautiously optimistic that all of our states sometime in June are going to allow their campuses to allow for voluntary workouts” – Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott
The Pac-12 will introduce strict guidelines for all of its member institutions to follow before allowing student-athletes to participate in voluntary workouts this month.
All student-athletes returning to campuses will be required to be tested for COVID-19 and will also undergo antibody testing, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott announced in a prepared release.
The Pac-12 had previously not made its plans public as it approaches a voluntary June 15 date allowing its 12 institutions to return to voluntary workouts for the first time since mid-March.
“We are going to have uniformity in the Pac-12,” Scott said.
“We’ve got a very strong medical advisory committee made up of our team docs and trainers. But we’ve got seven or eight infectious disease experts that are associated with these great university hospitals and medical research centers. They have specialists in this area and the collaboration has been terrific.”
The Pac-12’s guidelines on testing are among the strongest in the country. No other Power 5 conference has yet announced uniform testing protocols for Covid-19. Several schools outside the Pac-12 have announced they will not test student-athletes unless they show symptoms or travel from one of four hotspots identified by the Center for Disease Control: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans.
More than 100,000 Americans have died from the virus and nearly 1.8 million have been infected.
Scott believes some uniformity is needed when the season begins, particularly before non-conference games. Discussions among conferences about game-day and game-week protocols are underway.
“That’s going to require a level of collaboration and agreement,” Scott said.
“That is not always so easy in college sports but I think people realize the importance of it and I’m optimistic we’ll get there.”
Pac-12 student-athletes will also be required to undergo routine COVID-19 tests, which are set to be conducted weekly in the ramp up to preseason practices, Scott announced.
Scott cited experts’ studies that reveal those with the virus are contagious before they show symptoms, which is compounded by the already-expanding problem of asymptomatic patients. Marshall University had three people, including two athletes, test positive for COVID-19 recently. All three were asymptomatic.
“If you follow that logic, the idea of checking symptoms, it’s too late if you’ve got a symptom,” Scott said.
“You’ve probably been infectious a few days before. And so for that reason and others, there will be testing. There is also going to be antibody testing for all student-athletes when they come back for a couple reasons,…first and foremost, if you had the virus, there’s a heightened level of concern with cardiac and lung (health). There’s going to be other screenings and protocols.”
Scott said testing protocols “will continue to evolve” through the summer.
“I guess I should underscore that we’re learning a lot, but I feel like we’ve got some pretty solid protocols for at least our return to voluntary workouts and reopening of our facilities,” Scott said.
Two states in the Pac-12 footprint have yet to clear the opening of gyms – Washington and California. Those states, however, have indicated they may allow pro sports to return in June.
“Right now we’ve got reason to be, let’s say, cautiously optimistic that all of our states sometime in June are going to allow their campuses to allow for voluntary workouts,” Scott said.