The Pac-12 conference won’t be the first to return student-athletes to their respective fields or courts but they may in fact be the safest to do so.
Commissioner Larry Scott laid out a plan of strict guidelines regarding the safe and healthy return of sports and student-athletes in the Pac-12. Those stated that all student-athletes returning to campus are required to be tested for coronavirus while also being required to undergo antibody testing. Scott told 247Sports after they had previously not made their plans public but have since done so with the June 15 voluntary return of student-athletes to all 12 universities.
Among the toughest in the country, the Pac-12 guidelines are the first among Power-5 conferences to be announced though other schools have clearly stated that they won’t be regularly testing their student-athletes unless symptoms appear.
“We are going to have uniformity in the Pac-12,” Scott said. “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 Pac-12 student-athletes will be required to undergo weekly, routine testing, particularly important during the time ahead of fall practices and during these voluntary return to athletic events on June 15.
Scott also told 247Sports that the reason for uniform testing of all student-athletes is because of studies presented to him that show just how contagious the virus is without symptoms appearing.
“If you follow that logic, the idea of checking symptoms, it’s too late if you’ve got a symptom,” Scott 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.”
There is no word on how long the weekly, routine testing will take place, however, Scott did also mention that the process will continually evolve through the summer.
This is also, of course, because Washington state and California have not allowed gyms to open but have said that pro sports may be coming back in June.
Either way, Scott codifying the uniform tests puts the Pac-12 in a great place to be prepared to open for a full fall season of athletics. It’s a step in the right direction and it’s a clear-cut way of saying we’re better to be safe than sorry.
As a parent myself, I can say I wholeheartedly agree with this approach and would definitely rather err on the side of caution.