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NCAA announces health and safety plans for all other winter championships

Following the recent announcement of health and safety protocols for the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, the NCAA has announced protocols for its remaining winter championships. The protocols related to the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship are expected to be announced in the near future.

“This is the next step in being able to have our student-athletes compete for national championships in the safest manner possible,” said Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer. “These protocols have been put in place after extensive discussion with some of the leading members of the medical and scientific community who have the utmost expertise in public health and COVID-19.”

The first portion of the plan calls for all rounds of the winter championships to be held at predetermined sites, rather than at traditional sites that are not predetermined. Bids for predetermined preliminary rounds will be accepted now through Jan. 25, with the host sites to be announced the week of Feb. 8. For championships that typically have predetermined sites that have previously been announced, those sites will continue to host as long as local public health authorities determine it is safe to do so.

Previously, Division I announced its fall championships will be held in the spring, while Divisions II and III canceled all fall championships. The process to assign predetermined sites for all rounds of Division I and National Collegiate fall sport championships will be held in early February.

The Return to Championships Guidelines have been finalized for all sports and are located here. These documents have been prepared such that each sport will be able to select the appropriate guidelines for each championship event based on guidance/direction from the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, along with local and state oversight at the site of the preliminary and final rounds of the championship event.

The documents are intended to be consistent with guidance published by the federal government and its corresponding health agencies and otherwise reflective of the best available scientific and medical information. These documents will be used in coordination with applicable federal, state and local laws, policies and guidelines. The documents are subject to further revisions as available COVID-19 data and information continue to emerge and evolve.

Finally, Diamond Health/Vivature Inc. has been selected as the testing provider for all championships other than Division I men’s basketball. In addition, Division I Women’s Basketball is still in negotiations with regards to its testing vendor. Based in Dallas, Diamond Health and Vivature serve more than 400 colleges and universities with technology and administrative services, including COVID-19 testing. They will be responsible for both PCR and antigen testing at the championship sites.

“The sports committees and our staff have committed since last March to provide the leadership and guidance to restart our championships. We are pleased to arrive at this critical step, which is announcing protocols to host national championships,” NCAA Senior Vice President of Championships Joni Comstock said. “In less than two months, it is our plan to conduct NCAA championships for the first time in a year. We have placed health and safety at the forefront of every decision to protect our student-athletes, coaches and fans to the best of our ability in the championship events.”

No final decisions have been made in regard to fans at any of the championships.