When Pac-12 student-athletes return to campus this month, they’ll follow the same testing protocols — regardless of the program.
Student-athletes will be required to be tested for COVID-19 and will also undergo antibody testing, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told 247Sports this week. Weekly COVID-19 tests will follow as well.
The conference previously announced its member programs can resume voluntary campus workouts June 15, though the state of Washington’s guidelines have yet to allow for such activities. Still, when the Huskies do eventually return to Seattle, they’ll be expected to adhere to the conference-wide testing requirements announced by Scott on Monday.
“We are going to have uniformity in the Pac-12,” Scott told 247Sports. “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 coordination hasn’t been nearly as cohesive elsewhere nationally. To this point, no other Power Five conference has announced uniform testing policies for its athletes’ return to campus. Arkansas, for example, will test only those athletes showing symptoms or returning from hot spots in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans upon their arrival on campus.
Louisville announced a four-phase plan to safely return its student-athletes to campus. In the first phase, 30 football players and 15 men’s and women’s basketball players would arrive on May 27, begin physical examinations June 3 and commence voluntary workouts June 8. The following three waves of athlete arrivals are scheduled for June 10, July 6 and late August.
At the University of Wyoming, a portion of student-athletes from football and men’s and women’s basketball will return to campus June 1 and be required to undergo COVID-19 testing and complete a 14-day self-quarantine before beginning voluntary activities June 15.
The cost of the Pac-12’s testing protocols is unclear. When Washington athletics director Jen Cohen presented a best-case scenario financial year 2021 budget to the Board of Regents on May 13, the prepared presentation noted that additional medical costs for student-athletes and staff — including testing and personal protective equipment — “may have (a) significant impact on FY21 but are yet to be determined”.
During that same presentation, UW president Ana Mari Cauce said that “I am on the team that’s looking at the health aspects of (sports) returning, as is the president of Stanford and the president of Arizona. Our Pac-12 (team) has developed scenarios looking at what kind of testing would need to happen. What are the health issues? What kind of distancing? That has been considered some of the most robust and comprehensive models out there. In fact, the NCAA is asking us for our work.
“But just as when I’m asked about returning to school in the fall, we can plan – and we must plan – and we are trying to come up with scenarios that would allow some sports to be played. Just like a return in the fall, in a modified version. But we also need to be following this day-to-day and be ready to pivot.”
“What I can assure you,” Cauce concluded, “is that there is no question that we are putting the student-athletes first and looking to see what would be safe and best for them.”
Hope remains that UW’s student-athletes could still play full seasons this fall.
But they have to successfully and safely reconvene on campus first.
“The reality is that we have to take one step forward, which is to see our student-athletes come back into our weight rooms and our training rooms and make sure that we have the right medical protocol to do that and that each school is aligned with what our state university guidelines are to do that,” Cohen told The Times in an interview last month. “If we fit with the guidelines we’re seeing within our league and it all goes according to plan, we have a shot at playing our full season, and everybody wants to play a full football season.”