NCAA outlines three-times-a-week testing guideline for basketball

The NCAA has outlined an expectation that college basketball teams test athletes three times a week, though it’s possible the Big Ten could require more when it’s all said and done.

The guidelines in “Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Basketball,” released by the NCAA on Friday, paint a picture of what will be expected as colleges attempt to tackle an indoor, winter sport amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Practices are slated to begin Oct. 14, with the season starting on Nov. 25.

In the preseason, the NCAA is recommending weekly testing for “Tier 1” individuals, which means athletes, coaches, and essential basketball personnel — an “inner bubble” totaling about 25-30 people. At that time, according to the release, “the expectation” is that teams will not be scrimmaging outside squads, negating the need for more frequent testing prior to the season.

On the other hand, the Big Ten is using daily antigen testing for football, starting on Sept. 30. It’s possible the conference continues daily testing for all sports, including basketball.

Three-day-a-week testing, according to the NCAA, should begin a week before the first competition. It is not suggested that athletes and coaches distance and wear masks on the bench.
 
In the event of a positive case, the NCAA recommends “all other Tier 1 individuals quarantine as soon as the results are known for a period of 14 days, with contact tracing beginning immediately” to determine high-risk contacts who may have been exposed.
 
“Ultimately, the appropriate public health officials have jurisdiction to make these determinations,” the guidelines state.
 
“At present, there is not a recommendation for consideration of testing out of quarantine.”
 
Among other recommendations, the NCAA says the scorer’s table could be moved to the other side of the court to keep it at a distance from the players and coaches’ bench. The NCAA also suggests traveling parties of no more than 30 individuals and, when possible, avoiding overnight stays.
 
“The traveling team also should consider, ahead of time, necessary arrangements for proper return transport of infected, isolated and quarantined student-athletes and personnel, in each case in accordance with appropriate state and local public health requirements,” the guidelines state.
 
While the guidelines acknowledge that cases of COVID-19 have been “decreasing or (have) stabilized” in many parts of the country, it reiterates the circumstances that may come into play when considering the shutdown of competition. They are identical to what was outlined in the leadup to the football season:
 
A lack of ability to isolate new positive cases or quarantine high contact risk cases on campus.
 
-Unavailability or inability to perform symptomatic, surveillance and pre-competition testing when warranted and as recommended in this document.
 
-Campuswide or local community test rates that are considered unsafe by appropriate public health officials.
 
-Inability to perform adequate contact tracing consistent with governmental requirements or recommendations.
 
-Appropriate public health officials stating that there is an inability for the hospital infrastructure to accommodate a surge in hospitalizations related to COVID-19.