The Pac-12 has announced a groundbreaking daily COVID-19 testing for student-athletes in what they’re deeming as ‘close-contact’ sports. They’re said to be utilizing testing machines and are expecting those to be delivered to campuses as soon as the end of September.
Despite new testing measures and the east coast returning to competitive sports, the Pac-12 has also told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd that fall football ‘would be a huge hurdle to pull off.’ That’s because of the decision to hastily postpone the season following the Big Ten Conference doing such a thing, and due to the conference’s medical advisory board’s parameters set forth.
“Even if we were ready to start tomorrow, we couldn’t,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “We’ve always thought about return to play in a very measured and thoughtful way. ... This is a very important and significant step, but there are other considerations that will go into our return to play.”
It’s important to note that there are still six in-conference schools that are unable to practice due to local health guidelines. Daily testing would be a first for college athletics as the conferences currently playing athletics competitions have stated they’ll do as many as three tests per week, but nothing close to daily.
So, the Pac-12 is still scheduled to begin playing sports on January 1, 2021.
“This is a major step toward the safe resumption of Pac-12 sport competitions,” Scott said in a release. “The availability of a reliable test that can be administered daily, with almost immediate results, addresses one of the key concerns that was expressed by our medical advisory committee, as well as by student-athletes, coaches and others. At the same time, our partnership with Quidel, the industry leader in point-of-care antigen testing, will provide crucial research data that will benefit our members’ communities as well as the entire country.”
The machines from Quidel are said to be able to release test results within 15 minutes. Rapid results and daily testing will certainly ease the concerns of student-athletes, coaches and staff, and should ultimately help get sports back up and running in the Pac-12 as testing frequency was a major factor in the postponing in the first place.
As great as the daily tests may be for the conference, the fact that the progressive nature of health guidelines set in place locally for half the conference will ultimately have to be lifted before we can go any further. For that reason, and still several more, it seems like we’re a ways off from football (and other sports) in the Pac-12.
At least maybe we’ll be overly prepared when it comes time for it.