Coronavirus: NCAA releases nine-step and three-phase plan for schools to resume sports

Yahoo Sports

The NCAA has a public plan it wants its schools to follow as they move toward an eventual resumption of sports.

The broad nine-step and three-phase plan released Friday is based on the three-phase federal guidelines for easing social distancing and other limitations during the coronavirus pandemic. Most notably, it makes clear that a resumption of sports must be centered around the resumption of students on campus. So if you want football to happen in the fall at your favorite school, you’re going to want all other students to be able to be on campus.

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“Collegiate sports differ from professional sports because all collegiate athletes are first and foremost students,” the plan said. “Thus, resocialization of collegiate sport must be grounded in resocialization of college campuses. As with society at large, such resocialization must be measured, nimble, and based on sound science. In all instances, college athletics must operate with approval of the students’ institutional leadership; and the institution must be operating in accordance with local and state public officials with regard to return to campus, return to practice, and return to competition. In the end, institutional and governmental leadership determine who can participate in; assist with; and watch student-athlete practices and competition.”

[Wetzel: Could you see the SEC stage its own football season?]

14 days per phase

None of the three phases can happen without a 14-day downward trend of coronavirus cases and flu-like illnesses in schools’ surrounding areas, and local hospitals cannot be overworked.

The first phase can happen once schools have their plans to get students back on campus and are adequately prepared with personal protective equipment for athletic healthcare providers along with the ability to quickly and easily procure coronavirus tests and “the ability to assess immunity to COVID-19 at the regional and local level.”

That first phase includes no gatherings of 10 or more, virtual meetings whenever possible, continued physical distancing and a request that all vulnerable populations continue to shelter in place. 

The second phase, which can only happen after 14 or more days of the first phase, loosens restrictions slightly and allows gatherings of up to 50 people “unless precautionary measures of physical distancing and sanitization are in place.”

The third phase, which comes after a minimum of two weeks of the second phase “with no evidence of a rebound” of coronavirus, allows schools to open gyms and common areas if appropriate sanitation protocols are implemented and unrestricted staffing can resume.

With coronavirus outbreaks varying in timing and severity from state to state, NCAA schools will be implementing these phases at various times throughout the summer as their states go through the federal phases. And based on the 28-day combined minimum of the first two phases and athletic activity moratoriums in place by various conferences through May, official practices and workouts aren’t going to be starting anytime in the coming weeks.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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