TheKnightReport - B1G football is coming back, announces testing procedures, guidelines
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B1G football is coming back, announces testing procedures, guidelines

Wednesday, the Big Ten Conference Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) announced that fall sports, including football, will return this fall starting the weekend of October 23-24.

The decision was based on information by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force.

The league is mandating that student-athletes, coaches, trainers, and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games undergo daily antigen testing. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will require a polymerase chain reaction to confirm it.

“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, Head Team Physician, The Ohio State University and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee.

“The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.”

Each university will designate a Chief Infection Officer who will oversee the collection and reporting of the testing dating. Team positivity rate and population positivity rates will have thresholds and will be used to determine whether a team can continue practice and game competition.

In addition, all student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus will go through enhanced cardiac screening including labs and biomarkers, ECG, Echocardiogram, and a Cardiac MRI. They must receive clearance from a cardiologist designated by the school and the earliest an individual can return to game play is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive result.

All 14 teams will have conduct a cardiac registry to examine the effects of a COVID-19 positive student-athlete. The data will be used to help answer the unknowns the virus can have.

“From the onset of the pandemic, our highest priority has been the health and the safety of our students. The new medical protocols and standards put into place by the Big Ten Return To Competition Task Force were pivotal in the decision to move forward with sports in the conference,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President, and Chair of the Return to Competition Task Force Steering Committee. “We appreciate the conference’s dedication to developing the necessary safety procedures for our students and the communities that embrace them.”

The Chief Infection Officer at each institution will make decisions about continuing practice or games as determined by data from a seven-day rolling average of the team positivity rate and the population positivity rate.

Daily testing will begin by September 30.

Updates regarding the other fall sports and winter sports will be announced soon. The conference originally released an updated schedule in early August to only postpone the season on August 11.

“Our focus with the Task Force over the last six weeks was to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes. Our goal has always been to return to competition so all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “We are incredibly grateful for the collaborative work that our Return to Competition Task Force have accomplished to ensure the health, safety and wellness of student-athletes, coaches and administrators.”

-- Team positivity rate (number of positive tests divided by total number of tests administered):

Green 0-2%

Orange 2-5%

Red >5%

-- Population positivity rate (number of positive individuals divided by total population at risk):

Green 0-3.5%

Orange 3.5-7.5%

Red >7.5%

-- Decisions to alter or halt practice and competition will be based on the following scenarios:

Green/Green and Green/Orange: Team continues with normal practice and competition.

Orange/Orange and Orange/Red: Team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).

Red/Red: Team must stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and reassess metrics until improved.

Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.