NCAA health guidelines suggest testing basketball players three times per week for coronavirus

The NCAA released health and safety guidelines for the college basketball season on Friday, including a suggestion to test players, coaches and officials three times per week during the season.

The guidelines were created by the NCAA Sport Science Institute in partnership with the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group and are supported by the NCAA board of governors.

"This basketball resocialization guidance is based on the best information available in a rapidly changing COVID-19 environment," NCAA president Mark Emmert said. "It is predicated on the assumption that rapid testing capabilities will be readily available later this year. We will constantly assess emerging information as we prepare for the start of the basketball season at the end of November."

Basketball is classified as a "high contact risk sport," and the guidelines encouraged schools to define which individuals within the program should be considered Tier 1 (players and those with the most direct access to them). It's estimated that there will be 25-30 Tier 1 individuals on each team, including most coaches.

The guidelines suggest testing Tier 1 individuals every two weeks during the transition period from Sept. 21 to Oct. 13 and weekly during the preseason from Oct. 14 to Nov. 24.

During the season, the guidelines suggest testing Tier 1 individuals three times per week, with the increase in testing beginning one week before the first game.

"When a Tier 1 individual tests positive, it is suggested that all other Tier 1 individuals quarantine as soon as the results are known for a period of 14 days, with contact tracing beginning immediately to determine who was subject to a high-risk exposure," according to the guidelines.

The guidelines say that players and coaches on the bench, assuming they have tested negative, don't need to observe distancing rules. However, they suggest that Tier 2 individuals and scorekeepers observe distancing and masking rules and/or move to the other side of the court.

"The guidelines reflect recommendations from collaboration with the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, which features representatives from across the membership," NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline said. "We will continue to work with them and others from the Association in safeguarding student-athlete well-being."