As the Atlantic Coast Conference unveiled its plan on Wednesday to have its football programs, including Notre Dame this fall, play a “10-plus-1” schedule of 10 ACC games and one non-conference opponent, precautions to combat the spread of COVID-19 will be in place.
With a bubble setting that has been successful in the NBA and MLS not plausible in college athletics, the ACC’s Medical Advisory Group outlined in a seven-page document minimum standards that must be met in order for teams to compete. All ACC institutions had a health expert in the advisory group. For Miami, it’s Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez, professor in UM’s Division of Environment and Public Health.
With all ACC schools playing one non-conference game, that outside opponent must abide by the same standards for at least two weeks before the game.
“We’re very supportive of the document as it was constructed,” UM athletic director Blake James said in a video conference with reporters on Wednesday. “We’re in line with the ACC medical standards as have been released.”
All football team members and those that are in close contact with them will be tested weekly beginning with the first week of the season. The test must be administered within three days of the game, so it would be Wednesday before a Saturday game, for example.
Additional testing may be done at the school’s discretion so long as the three-day requirement is met. Molecular, or PCR (polymerise chain reaction), testing will be used.
In addition to players and coaches, support staff that must be tested by the same guidelines, including medical care providers — athletic trainers, team physicians, nutritionists, psychologists — administrators, tutors, athletic directors and sports information, marketing and social media directors.
Each institution is asked to keep support staff members’ direct contact with athletes to a minimum and will use contact tracing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if additional staff members should be tested. The CDC defines prolonged close contact as within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes.
A player who tests positive for COVID-19 is to be isolated for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms or the positive test and at least one day since recovery. While receiving medical treatment from institutional medical staff, the player will be unavailable for training, team/group activities and games until completing isolation and receiving clearance from team physicians.
A student-athlete who has tested positive is no longer subject to weekly pre-competition testing for a period of 90 days from the date of the positive test, unless if exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The guidelines also say “this standard is subject to change as research evolves in this area.”
On game day, everyone permitted in the team bench area is required to wear a face covering, with the exception of players wearing their helmet on the sideline.
In cases where a positive test result comes within 48 hours after a player participated in a game, the school is required to report it to the opponent. The individual’s role on the team and a summary of interactions with the opponent would be included, but their name is not to be shared, unless authorized by the individual.
The ACC also outlined screening procedures, including temperature and symptom checks for any additional individuals that seek access to field or team areas, including media, with social distancing practiced as much as possible.
All host teams must adequately sanitize all areas both teams will access and create a visiting team guide for away teams to follow. Postgame interactions between opposing team members will be limited to a brief greeting at midfield.
ACC teams were given “game discontinuation considerations” in situations where there they cannot quarantine new positive cases, perform required testing or contact tracing, or if campus-wide or local community transmission rates became unsafe or local hospital infrastructure cannot accommodate a surge in COVID-related hospitalizations.
Pregame festivities and postgame gatherings that bring team members into close contact with others not subject to ACC testing standards are highly discouraged. If home venues are able to host fans, significant spacing is required between fan areas and the field.
Football falls into the highest risk category, according to the ACC, along with basketball, volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, rowing and field hockey. Baseball, softball and cross country are labeled “medium,” and golf, tennis, track and field, swimming and diving and fencing are considered “low.”
James on Wednesday said Miami’s one non-conference game this season will likely be one of the teams that were originally scheduled — Temple, UAB or Wagner — after Michigan State was crossed off when the Big Ten announced earlier in July it would not play outside the conference. Wagner’s conference in the Football Championship Subdivision , Northeast Conference, postponed fall sports on Thursday, so it appears it will be either Tempe or UAB for Miami.
©2020 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.