Guidance and Considerations for Men’s and Women’s Basketball Officiating

This document is intended as a resource to provide guidance for member schools and conferences in all divisions on the topic of basketball officiating.

The information in this publication was developed in support of the release of the Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Basketball and Frequently Asked Questions: Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Basketball and Testing Considerations for All Sports. All information contained in this document should be considered recommendations and/or considerations. As with prior NCAA publications, this document reflects the relevant scientific and medical information available at the time of print. These materials should not be used as a substitute for medical or legal advice. Rather, they are intended as a resource for member schools to use in coordination with applicable government and related institutional policies and guidelines, and they remain subject to further revision as available data and information in this space continue to emerge and evolve.

COVID-19 Testing.

  1. For purposes of the Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Basketball, officials are considered part of the Tier 1 individuals who are tested a minimum of three times a week on nonconsecutive days. Testing can be PCR or antigen with testing ideally beginning one week before assignment (to permit completion of three tests and receipt of results before the start of event activities).
  2. Schools and conferences should proactively work with officials and/or assigning agencies (for example, for multiteam events or NCAA championship games) to determine how costs associated with testing will be managed.
  3. Where an official is only working one game in an entire week, consider a minimum of one test before the game, either PCR within three days before the assignment or antigen/rapid PCR on the same day as the assignment.
  4. For conferences that play conference-only games (or for schools that play games within a specified geographic locale) with one team in one location on consecutive days: officials who work both games need one PCR test within three days before the second game or an antigen/rapid PCR test on the day of each game. If the games are nonconsecutive (for example, Thursday and Saturday), then the PCR test should be within three days before the second game or an antigen test the day of each game. If the crews change, then PCR or antigen testing is for the assigned game of the officials, that is, a PCR within three days before the assigned game or an antigen/rapid PCR test on the day of the assigned game.
  5. Where testing will occur on the same day as competition, the assigning conference should consider coordinating and managing those activities. If the host institution/third-party testing agency is facilitating testing on-site, it should proactively consider how it will liaise with applicable state and local public health officials, including notification of any positive test results and participation in and support of any necessary contact tracing activities.
  6. The time of the testing should be determined based on the type of test and the start of the game. Consideration should be given for replacement officials in the event of a positive test result.
  7. When an official is tested on-site, the host institution should consider how best to provide a holding area for tested officials, and ensure they avoid proximity and contact with other individuals, until results are known.
  8. Schools should consider developing and implementing appropriate protocols that adequately address the following operational factors related to positive or inconclusive test results, in each case in accordance with applicable state and local public health requirements, and they should determine how best to proactively communicate the details of those protocols to game officials, conference officials and all relevant institutional personnel.
    • Procedures for notifying applicable government health agencies, conference administrators and coordinators, and other impacted stakeholders in the event an official tests positive or has inconclusive test results.
    • Procedures and adequate facilities to appropriately isolate/provide a holding area and provide access to necessary medical care for officials who test positive.
    • Necessary arrangements for proper return transport of an infected, isolated or quarantined official. If the official is to travel home, this must be done with strict adherence to isolation travel (private car/bus/charter) with appropriate personal protective equipment for all.
  9. Currently, neither CDC recommendations nor NCAA guidance suggests that the recommended 14-day quarantine period might be shortened on the basis of a negative test result. In other words, it is not suggested that individuals can “test out of” quarantine requirements. Where it is believed that an antigen test has resulted in a possible false-positive result, materials suggest that normal isolation practices would be followed unless and until a subsequent PCR test could produce a negative test result. Suggested protocols for retesting a possible false positive PCR result currently vary and are managed by state, county and local public health authorities. Conferences and schools will want to take appropriate steps to confirm their retesting protocols are properly aligned with state, county and local regulations.
  10. Emerging information reported on the CDC website suggests retesting of individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 is unlikely to yield useful information, even if the person has had close contact with an infected person, so retesting is not suggested during the 90 days following a positive test unless individuals develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and there is no other cause identified for their symptoms. Emerging evidence also suggests that individuals can continue to test positive even after 90 days, yet there is a scarcity of reports that are consistent with individual reinfection. Antibody levels can fluctuate over time, and the clinical meaning of this fluctuation is uncertain. Given such data, for a period of 150 days, retesting should be performed only for those individuals who develop COVID-19 symptoms that are not otherwise explained by another condition. However, after this 90-day window, it is recommended that individuals who experience a high-risk exposure enter quarantine for 14 days.

Communication.

Host institutions should consider proactively communicating with officials about testing and venue information at least 48 hours before the scheduled game and should consider including, among other pertinent information:

  1. Testing times and protocol at the game site, if applicable.
  2. Recommended time of arrival for officials.
  3. Designated point of entry for officials to use to enter/exit the facility.
  4. Screening requirements/protocols needed before entry, if applicable.
  5. Availability of locker room and/or meeting space.
  6. Availability of showers, towels and water bottles.
  7. Protocol for use of the athletic training facility and services.

Travel.

  1. It is important that host institutions, game officials, conferences and conference coordinators stay updated and educated on all applicable federal, state, county and local travel restrictions. Clear and proactive communication with applicable federal, state, county and local health agencies may help facilitate travel logistics and avoid unnecessary restrictions.
  2. Conference coordinators and others involved with scheduling officials should consider whether and to what extent geographically based assignments might help avoid unnecessary travel and otherwise limit risks related to COVID-19 for officials.
  3. Officials should be mindful about masking/distancing and other travel-related risk-mitigation practices described in the CDC travel guidelines and should consider avoiding ride share and any other arrangements that may limit the ability to adhere to these guidelines.

Pregame.

Host schools should consult with conference representatives, as applicable, and carefully consider and determine how best to address all applicable risks related to pregame activities including, among others:

  1. Protocol for officials. Applicable arrival times, locker room and other relevant facility and meeting location information including:
    • Whether the host school has planned to hold pregame conferences virtually before arrival or on-site in a location other than the locker room to facilitate proper physical distancing practices.
    • Whether officials will be permitted to arrive and depart the facility in their game attire.
    • Whether postgame showering in the locker room will be permitted.
    • Reminders about the importance of masking and maintaining adequate distance in the locker room, upon entering the facility and while transitioning to and from the court.
  2. Locker room.
    • Procedures to ensure game officials’ locker rooms and/or meeting areas are adequately cleaned and disinfected before officials’ arrival and that, once cleaned, no access is given to anyone other than the officials.
    • Adequate supply and access to hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray bottles and/or disinfecting wipes in the officials’ locker room.
    • Clean towels assigned for each official, as applicable, for use in the locker room or on the court and procedures to ensure they are only handled by the official to which they are assigned.
  3. Table crew meeting.
    • Consider conducting activity at the scorer’s table, 45 minutes before game time.
    • Remind all individuals about the importance of masking and maintaining adequate physical distance during activity.
    • Consider encouraging the referee to make note of the location of all key table crew positions to ensure they are easily locatable and accessible during the game as needed.
  4. Captains meeting.
    • Consider eliminating or modifying the format of captains/officials meeting to include only the referee and one student-athlete per team.
    • Reminders to captains about the importance of compliance by all individuals with all applicable masking and distancing requirements and that physical contact with officials is prohibited at all times, including during player introductions.
  5. Coaches greeting.
    • Reminders to coaches that handshakes/fist bumps and other physical contact between officials and coaches has been eliminated.

In-game.

Host schools should consult with conference representatives, as applicable, and carefully consider and determine how best to address all applicable risks related to in-game activities including, among others:

  1. Equipment.
    • Consider requiring officials to use a covering on all sides over their whistle (bag, pouches or cover and not a whistle shield alone) to prevent displacement of spit into the air, and to arrive at the event with an adequate supply of spare coverings. Consider allowing electronic whistles as a substitute for traditional whistles with a covering.
    • Consider requiring officials to sanitize or replace their whistle covering and mask/face covering at halftime.
    • Reminders to officials about the importance of masking and maintaining adequate physical distance during all situations that require a conference involving officials, coaches and/or players.
    • Reminder to officials that use of protective shatterproof eyewear or goggles and/or gloves is permitted.
  2. If a timing system is used, consider procedures to adequately clean and disinfect the system before use by officials.
  3. Interaction with student-athletes and coaches.
    • Reminders to officials about the importance of masking and maintaining adequate physical distance whenever possible, including during timeouts, replays, intermissions and any other extended dead ball situations.
    • Reminders to officials about the importance of avoiding physical contact with players during altercations and that verbal direction and multiple sharp blasts of the whistle should be used, alternatively, to aid in restoring order.
  4. Interaction with the scorer’s table.
    • Reminders to officials about the importance of masking and, as possible, maintaining adequate physical distance, when communicating with any scorer’s table personnel.
    • Reminders to officials that they can adjust their positioning as needed to ensure their communication is seen and heard by the table crew.
  5. Replay.
    • If a replay monitor is used, consider locating the monitor and controller in a place that allows for physical distancing from bench and scorer’s table personnel and consider procedures to ensure the replay controller, monitor controls and headsets are adequately cleaned and disinfected after each use.
    • Reminders to officials to adhere to masking, distancing and other risk mitigation protocols while at the replay monitor and during pre-review and post-review discussions including during communications with TV talent regarding reviews.
    • Consider making disposable masks, gloves and hand sanitizer readily available to officials at the monitor station.
  6. Where applicable, consider requiring the instant replay technician to operate the monitor review controls.
  7. Mechanics. Please refer to the COVID-19 safety practices documents developed by the Collegiate Commissioners Association Men’s and Women’s Mechanics Committees as the same are described in the Men’s Rules and Women’s Rules, respectively.

Postgame.

Host schools should consult with conference representatives, as applicable, and carefully consider and determine how best to address all applicable risks related to postgame activities including, among others:

  1. Meals: If postgame meals are provided for officials, consider limiting options to prepackaged grab-and-go items that are accessible to officials while permitting them to adhere to physical distancing protocols.
  2. Consider conducting the officials postgame conference virtually or off-site and, if conducted in the locker room, reminding officials about the importance of continuing to adhere to masking and physical distancing requirements.
  3. Consider prohibiting evaluators and conference personnel from accessing the locker room and, instead, conducting postgame evaluations virtually or over the phone.

Division I National Dashboard.

  1. Consider creating a national dashboard through which information about eligibility of officials, based on adherence to testing and other COVID-19 protocols, can be shared with conferences.
  2. Consider encouraging or requiring each conference to submit a roster of all active officials to the national dashboard.
  3. Consider asking officials to participate in the dashboard by creating a profile and consents to allow applicable conference(s) to review testing information and results. School and conference legal and risk management personnel should identify and adequately address any applicable federal and state privacy requirements beyond the consents provided by officials.
  4. Consider leveraging the dashboard to automate delivery of daily health-related questions to officials and to monitor, manage and document real-time responses. School and conference legal and risk management personnel should identify and adequately address any applicable federal and state privacy requirements, beyond the consents provided by officials, that may result from these activities.
  5. NCAA and conference access will be consistent with the scope of the consents provided by the officials.