Nearly one week after the Pac-12 Conference gave student-athletes the green light to return to their respective campuses for voluntary workouts on June 15, its commissioner spoke for the first time about what type of testing procedures would be required over the next two months in order to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
In an interview with college football/basketball website 247Sports.com, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott indicated that student-athletes at each of the 12 member institutions – and across every athletic program – will undergo a coronavirus test once they return to campus, with weekly tests following for the foreseeable future.
According to Scott, all student-athletes will also be tested upon returning for antibodies, which can determine if someone has already contracted the virus.
“We are going to have uniformity in the Pac-12,” Scott told 247Sports.com writer Brandon Marcello. “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.”
With Scott’s comments, the Pac-12 becomes the first conference to announce an aggressive approach toward coronavirus testing for its student-athletes. Individual institutions outside of the Pac-12 have said they won’t conduct tests unless a student-athlete shows symptoms for the disease, or unless they travel to a COVID-19 hotspot. The four hotspots designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include New Orleans, New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut.
June 15 is the earliest Pac-12 schools can welcome student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts, but it won’t be the date used by every institution. Washington State Director of Athletics Pat Chun said in a statement last week that the Cougars would employ a “phased-in return to campus,” though the school has yet to announce a target date.
It’s unclear how much testing would cost for WSU’s athletic department, or if the Pac-12 would assist in covering those expenses.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has been traced to nearly 105,000 deaths in the United States, while almost 1.8 million have been affected by the disease, according to the CDC.
Scott explained the reasoning for conducting regular COVID-19 tests, as well as initial antibody tests, rather than merely monitoring the symptoms of student-athletes.
“If you follow that logic, the idea of checking symptoms, it’s too late if you’ve got a symptom,” he 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.”
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