NCAA Outlines Guidelines To Deal With The COVID-19 Pandemic
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NCAA Outlines Guidelines To Deal With Pandemic

On Thursday afternoon, the NCAA released its recommendations regarding protocols and guidelines for the 2020 college football season that currently is in limbo because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individual conferences already have made decisions independent of other leagues and the NCAA, most notably the Big Ten and then Pac-12 announcing last week that they would have a conference-only regular season. Other leagues are expected to announce later this month on whether or not they will follow a similar 10-game model — with Notre Dame taking its cue on scheduling with the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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Notre Dame football players huddling together
Social distancing in football huddles will not be an easy task. (Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports)

As a partial ACC football member, the Fighting Irish already have six ACC games on the 2020 docket, while the contests with Wisconsin, Stanford and USC have been cancelled because of the decisions by the Big Ten and Pac-12.

The primary guidelines released by the NCAA are:


Test Results For COVID-19 At Least 72 Hours Before A Game

This is particularly specific to sports with a higher rate of physical contact such as football.

Even before the NCAA made this stipulation, the American Athletic Conference (AAC) — which includes Navy, Notre Dame’s scheduled opener on Sept. 5 or 6 — mandated this action for all its league members.


A 14-Day Quarantine To Student-Athletes With High-Risk Exposure

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide the guidelines on when someone who has contracted the coronavirus will be permitted to rejoin teammates for practice and, ultimately, games.

Wearing Masks On The Sidelines

This encompasses the coaches, training and medical staff and the players as well.

Should a timeout be called in the game to discuss strategy, then someone coming from the field, such as the quarterback talking to the coach along the sideline, would be included. This would seem odd given the close quarters in which a football huddle on the field is conducted during the course of the game.

Face shields also could become more prevalent.

Notre Dame is slated to begin preseason workouts Aug. 7, three days before the start of the fall semester on campus.

In a statement released on Thursday, NCAA president Mark Emmert stated: “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.

“If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.”

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