The G8 Presidential and Chancellery Council (COP / C) has adopted significant medical protocols, including daily antigen testing, improved heart screening, and an improved data-based approach to practice / competition decisions. COP / C voted unanimously to resume the football season, starting on the weekend of 23-24 October 2020. The decision is based on information provided by the Big Ten Competition Working Group, a working group set up by COP / C and Commissioner Kevin Warren to ensure a process of collaboration and transparency.
The top ten will require student athletes, coaches, coaches and others on the field to undergo daily antigen tests of all practices and games. Test results must be completed and recorded before each training session or game. Student athletes who test positive for coronavirus through a point of contact (POC) on a daily basis will require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test.
“Everyone involved in the Big Ten should be proud of the innovative steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of student-athletes and surrounding communities,”
“The data we will collect from the tests and the cardiology registry will provide a major contribution to all 14 institutions in the Big Ten as they study COVID-19 and try to mitigate the spread of the disease to the wider community.”
Each institution will designate a Director-General for Infections (CInO) to oversee the collection and reporting of data for the Big Ten conference. The thresholds for the positivity of the team test and the degree of positivity of the population will be used to determine recommendations for the continuation of the practice and the competition.
All COVID-19 positive student-athletes will be required to undergo comprehensive cardiac tests to include laboratories and biomarkers, ECG, echocardiogram, and cardiac MRI. After a cardiac assessment, student athletes must obtain permission from a cardiologist appointed by the university with the primary goal of cardiac clearance for COVID-19 positive student athletes. The earliest student-athlete to return to the game competition is 21 days after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
In addition to the approved medical protocols, the 14 Big Ten institutions will create a cardiac registry in an attempt to study the effects on COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The register and related data will try to answer many of the unknown in terms of cardiac manifestations in COVID-19 positive elite athletes.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, our highest priority has been the health and safety of our students. The new medical protocols and standards introduced by the Working Group on the Big Ten to return to competition were key in the decision to move forward with sport in the conference, “said Morton Shapiro, President of the Council of Presidents / Chancellors of the Big Ten and Northwestern University. Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Competition Task Force. “We appreciate the commitment of the conference to developing the necessary safety procedures for our students and the communities that embrace them.”
“Our focus with the Working Group over the last six weeks has been to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes. “Our goal has always been to get back to competition so that 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 joint work that the Return to Race Task Force has done to ensure the health, safety and health of student-athletes, coaches and administrators.”
The Big Ten conference will use data provided by each Director General of Infections (CInO) to decide on the continuation of the practice and the competition, as determined by the degree of positivity of the team and the degree of positivity of the population, based on a seven-day moving average:
- Team positivity ratio (number of positive tests divided by the total number of tests applied):
- Green 0-2%
- Orange 2-5%
- red > 5%
- Percentage of population positivity (number of positive individuals divided by the general population at risk):
- Green 0-3.5%
- Orange 3.5-7.5%
- red > 7.5%
Decisions to change or discontinue practices and competition will be based on the following scenarios:
- Green/Green and Green/Orange: The team continues with normal practice and competition.
- Orange/Orange and Orange/red: The team must act with caution and improve the prevention of COVID-19 (change of practice and meeting schedule, consider the viability to continue with the planned race).
- red/red: The team must stop regular training and competitions for a minimum of seven days and reassess the performance until it improves.
Daily testing will begin by September 30, 2020.
Eventually, all Big Ten sports will require test protocols before they can resume competition. Updates on fall sports other than football, as well as winter sports that begin in the fall, including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s swimming and diving and wrestling, will be announced soon.
The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and bachelor’s teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Top Ten maintains a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that prioritize academia in the lives of students competing in inter-school athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness, and competitiveness. The extensive programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide more than $ 200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,800 students for more than 11,000 opportunities for 350 teams to participate in 42 different sports. The top ten sponsors 28 official sports conferences, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse from 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.