Health and Safety

Latest COVID-19 resocialization document addresses summer activities

The NCAA Sport Science Institute has released “Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: 2021 Summer Activities,” its seventh publication regarding the resocialization of college sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mental Health Awareness: Campuses and conferences supporting wellness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and across the country NCAA student-athletes, schools and conferences are creating initiatives and providing resources dedicated to improving and maintaining mental health in student-athletes.

DI Council adjusts transfer waiver guidelines

The Division I Council approved new waiver guidelines for student-athletes who aren’t eligible for the one-time transfer exception adopted last month. The new guidelines would apply to anyone who doesn’t meet the criteria for the one-time transfer exception, including students wishing to transfer a second time.

Championships Safety Overview

The NCAA is committed to the health and safety of all student-athletes, staff and fans. To satisfy this commitment, the Association has collaborated with leading members of the medical and scientific community with expertise in public health and COVID-19 management to establish guidelines for a return to championships.

The return-to-championships guidelines include the following provisions:

  • All rounds of the winter championships and Division I fall championships will be held at predetermined sites.
  • All championships will require a level of testing for Tier 1 and 2 participants before arrival at the championship site.
  • All championships will use a COVID-19 controlled environment for Tier 1 participants.
  • Aside from athletes who are actively competing or training, all accredited individuals and fans must universally mask and physically distance on-site.  
  • COVID-19 testing will be conducted based on travel considerations and each sport’s transmission risk level, as established by resocialization recommendations.
  • All individuals are required to adhere to safety protocols from the time they leave their home destination until they depart the championship site. 
  • Specific venue capacity and local health directives will be key factors in whether fans and family members will be allowed to attend. Site occupancy may be up to 100% capacity.
  • The NCAA’s championship guidelines allow each sport to use the appropriate guidelines for its championship event based on guidance and 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.

Each championship will establish two roles specific to the health and safety of the event: a Team COVID-19 Health Officer selected by every participating team and a Championships Medical Team for every championship event.

  • Team COVID-19 Health Officer: This individual is designated by each team to oversee team communication and management of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. The COVID-19 Health Officer should be a medical provider or school administrator and serves responsibilities similar to the athletics health care administrator. The officer will oversee self-health checks of all Tier 1 participants, assuring that such checks are performed daily. The officer will consult with the team medical personnel regarding any report of symptoms disclosed in a self-health check. The officer will also be the designated recipient of verbal communication from the championship command center of a confirmed positive COVID-19 test. Following such communication, the officer will speak with the affected individual and will coordinate isolation logistics with the command center, while also serving as a liaison with the school, family and other key stakeholders to assure proper medical coordination, lodging and return travel.
  • Championships Medical Team: Each championship will have a designated Championships Medical Team, consisting of two to four individuals. There will be every effort to assure that one team is assigned for the entire championship. The Championships Medical Team will be utilized for complex decision-making around COVID-19 issues, including but not limited to decisions regarding re-entry into a controlled environment, impact of positive cases on game play, and requests by teams regarding medical decision-making related to COVID-19.  The championships medical team has no authority for decision-making regarding confirmation of COVID-19 tests, but may offer an opinion, when requested by the governing sport committee, championship administrator, local public health authority, or NCAA Chief Medical Officer, regarding complexities of COVID-19-related issues. This group provides recommendations that will be delivered via the NCAA Chief Medical Officer to the final decision-making authorities, which include the local public health authority and/or the championship sport committee as appropriate.

Tiers for remaining championships

All individuals who are part of the remaining NCAA Championships will be identified as in Tier 1, 2 or 3.

  • Tier 1 individuals are those with the highest exposure (e.g., student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, medical staff, equipment staff and officials). Physical distancing and masking may be compromised during practice and competition.
  • Tier 2 individuals (e.g., administrators, security, event staff and league staff) are considered at moderate risk to exposure. They may be in proximity to those in Tier 1 but can always maintain physical distancing and masking. They may have limited interaction with Tier 1 individuals only upon approval and assurance that all parties will be physically distanced and masked.
  • Tier 3 individuals (e.g., housekeeping, catering, sanitation, transportation, media and broadcast workers) make up the lowest tier of risk to exposure. They will have no interaction with people in Tier 1 or Tier 2.

Testing strategies for remaining championships

The testing schedule for Tier 1 individuals is outlined in the chart below. Fully vaccinated student-athletes and other Tier 1 individuals with no COVID-19-like symptoms may be exempt from routine testing. Student-athletes and other Tier 1 participants who are not vaccinated must continue to undergo testing at NCAA championships.

If there is evidence of substantial or high transmission in the community, or if there are COVID-19 variants that escape the effect of the vaccine, then testing may need to resume for fully vaccinated individuals. Such decisions will be made in conjunction with local public health authorities and/or federal guidance.

The updated testing guidance also applies to Tier 2 and 3 individuals who may be subject to testing protocols at member schools and championships. If Tier 2 individuals are not fully vaccinated, they must undergo and document a negative PCR test within two days of arrival, or a negative antigen test within one day of arrival, and undergo daily self-health checks. Further testing is based on symptoms. Tier 3 individuals who are not fully vaccinated must undergo daily self-health checks, with testing based on symptoms.

Should state or local authorities require testing of vaccinated individuals, their guidance will supersede this policy and vaccinated individuals will be required to be tested.

Health and Safety Details for all NCAA Championships

The following chart is intended as a resource for member schools to use in coordination with applicable government and related institutional policies and guidelines. Updated information will be added when it becomes available.

Last Updated June 14, 2021

Event

Location

Dates

Pre-event Testing

On-site Testing

SPRING CHAMPIONSHIPS

DI Baseball

TD Ameritrade Park
Omaha, Nebraska

June 19-30

Negative antigen within one day of arrival, or negative PCR within two days of arrival.

Testing upon arrival and quarantine until confirmed negative, then testing every other day while participating on-site.

Return-to-play considerations following a positive test during championships

Some athletes may test positive for COVID-19 just before or during championships and may have an opportunity to compete if they have completed mandatory isolation and recovered and the championship event is ongoing. For this scenario, the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group agreed with the following considerations that were developed by the COVID-19 Playing and Practice Season Subcommittee of the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports.

  • Return-to-play decisions are to occur in a manner consistent with the provisions of independent medical care legislation, which provides primary athletics health care providers with unchallengeable autonomous authority to determine medical management and return-to-play decisions related to student-athletes (Division I Constitution 3.2.4.19; Division II Constitution 3.3.4.19; Division III Constitution 3.2.4.21).
  • Consistent with previous feedback, the subcommittee agreed that established best practices related to transition periods apply to this scenario, given the time of inactivity and potential for infection impact.
  • No singular approach (e.g., X-day policy) is appropriate as a substitution for local medical judgement and decision-making. Specifically, there can be significant variability in the clinical impact of COVID-19 infection and the overall physiological readiness of student-athletes, and this variability must be individually assessed by primary athletic health care providers.
  • Following isolation and appropriate medical clearance (e.g., cardiopulmonary evaluation), physical activity should be appropriately calibrated for sport-specific intensity, frequency and duration. In particular, the subcommittee highlighted the need for a demonstrated progression of intensity in a noncompetition setting. 
    • For example, before competition a student-athlete should demonstrate the ability to successfully manage physiological stress comparable to that during competition.
  • In summary, the principles of transition periods with a focus on frequency, duration and intensity of activity continue to apply; further, the variability in the clinical impact of disease and the overall physiological readiness of student-athletes does not support a national standardized policy for return to play. Following isolation and appropriate medical clearance, affected athletes should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and in a sport-specific way, before return to competition.

Media requests

Media should submit inquiries on health and safety protocols using this form.

 

NCAA Sport Science Institute updates resocialization guidelines

The NCAA Sport Science Institute, in collaboration with the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, has released Action Plan Considerations to help schools mitigate risks of COVID-19 spread as staff and student-athletes return.

Concussion Management Updates: Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of this document is to facilitate and support the efforts of NCAA member institutions to comply with applicable divisional concussion safety legislation. In early 2015, the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee created the Concussion Safety Protocol Checklist (Checklist) to encourage and support institutional compliance with industry best practices and applicable concussion legislation. Consistency with the Checklist is now specifically referenced as part of the requirements in each of the three divisional manuals. The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) recently approved an updated version of the Checklist and, while the NCAA has, through its governance process, relaxed many of the legislative requirements related to submission and reporting deadlines in response to the impact on schools resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, member schools still need to ensure that institutional concussion management practices are consistent with applicable legislative and policy requirements and should incorporate a thorough analysis of the recent updates to the Checklist and any other concussion-related legislative and policy changes as part of that process. Specifically, schools should carefully review and understand the most recent updates to the Checklist, and related concussion management legislation, policies and guidance, and work with applicable institutional personnel to ensure any necessary adjustments to their concussion management practices are properly and timely implemented. In this Frequently Asked Questions document we have provided responses to some of the most anticipated membership questions related to those institutional review and update activities.

Q1. Have there been any legislative or policy updates related to concussion management since 2020?

A1. No. There have been no changes to divisional legislation related to concussion management since the publication of the last frequently asked question in 2020. However, as a reminder, a portion of Division I Constitution 3.2.4.20.1 (Concussion Safety Protocol) was updated in 2019 to require that an institution's Concussion Safety Protocol must be consistent with the Checklist. In addition, the Interassociation Recommendations: Preventing Catastrophic Injury and Death in Collegiate Athletes, which contain content specific to concussion management, were unanimously endorsed by the NCAA Board of Governors and announced as Association-wide policy under the Uniform Standard of Care Procedures in the summer of 2019and all three divisions are required to comply with those materials.

Q2. Has the Checklist been updated since 2020?

A2. Yes. CSMAS approved updates to the Checklist at its most recent committee meeting in February of this year. These changes became effective immediately upon approval.

Q3. How is the Checklist updated?

A3. The NCAA Board of Governors designated CSMAS to prescribe the process and format recommendations related to applicable concussion legislation. The Concussion Safety Advisory Group (CSAG) was created by CSMAS for the purposes of providing focused review and advice around emerging developments in concussion science and policy, including those that may warrant an update to the Checklist and related policy and educational materials. CSAG meets annually in the spring to review and discuss available research data and accepted industry practices and how they may impact Checklist content. At its February 2021 meeting and based on input from the CSAG, CSMAS approved several minor changes to the Checklist.

Q4. How do I know what has changed with the Checklist?

A4. The updated version of the Checklist can be accessed here. All updated content has been highlighted so that changes from the previous version can be easily identified.

Q5. Aside from the legislative and policy updates described in Item Q1 above and the updates to the Checklist, are there any other legislative or policy requirements related to concussion management that we should review or be aware of?

A5. Yes. While certain details of applicable concussion legislation vary depending on division, and each school should carefully review all legislative and policy requirements related to concussion management, all three divisions require that the following provisions be included as part of a school’s concussion management plan:

  • An annual process that ensures student-athletes are educated about the signs and symptoms of concussions. Student-athletes must acknowledge that they have received information about the signs and symptoms of concussions and that they have a responsibility to report concussion-related injuries and illnesses to a medical staff member;
  • A process that ensures a student-athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion shall be removed from athletics activities (e.g., competition, practice, conditioning sessions) and evaluated by a medical staff member (e.g., sports medicine staff, team physician) with experience in the evaluation and management of concussions;
  • A policy that precludes a student-athlete diagnosed with a concussion from returning to athletics activity (e.g., competition, practice, conditioning sessions) for at least the remainder of that day; and
  • A policy that requires medical clearance for a student-athlete diagnosed with a concussion to return to athletics activity (e.g., competition, practice, conditioning sessions) as determined by a physician (e.g., team physician) or the physician’s designee.

Q6. Who is responsible for assuring the implementation of applicable concussion management updates at my institution?

A6. Independent Medical Care legislation in all three divisions requires the designation of an Athletics Health Care Administrator (AHCA) who independently oversees the administration and delivery of athletics health care on behalf of the institution. While we anticipate that the creation and implementation of any necessary concussion management changes and practices may require input from a variety of institutional medical and other personnel, it is reasonable to consider these activities as part of the broader administration and delivery of health care at each institution.

Q7. What is the NCAA Concussion Protocol Template and why was it created?

A7. To facilitate and support member compliance with concussion legislation, CSMAS approved a Concussion Safety Protocol Template (Template) that includes all components of the Checklist. The Template is available for download in Microsoft Word format and allows schools to individualize certain areas of the document and to otherwise modify the Template to accommodate and reflect individual needs and practices.

Q8. Which institutions can access and use the Template?

A8. The Template is available to every NCAA member institution and may be utilized by institutional staff as an educational and compliance tool.

Q9. Where can I find a copy of the Template and does it reflect the most recent Checklist updates?

A9. Yes. We have revised the Template to reflect the most recent changes to the Checklist and the updated version of the Template can be accessed here. All updated content has been highlighted so that changes from the previous version can be easily identified.

Q10. Will there be Checklist changes in the future?

A10. The NCAA Sport Science Institute (SSI) will continue to work with CSMAS and the corresponding CSAG at least annually to identify and review information that may inform recommendations about future Checklist changes.

Q11. How does the Checklist and other legislative and policy requirements relate to the certification requirement arising from the Arrington settlement?

A11. While many of the member obligations in Section IX.A of the Settlement Agreement are similar to or overlap with certain existing NCAA health and safety legislation, policies and guidance materials, each set of obligations is distinct from and, in some instances, different from the other. Compliance with one set of obligations should not be deemed to automatically or entirely satisfy compliance with the other. Therefore, it is important to consult with school legal counsel and other risk management staff as necessary to fully understand these differences and to evaluate your institutional practices and compliance with respect to the member obligations as they relate to the Arrington matter and applicable NCAA legislation, policy and guidance. Additional detailed information about institutional obligations related to the Arrington matter, and the differences between those and NCAA legislative requirements, has been provided to all member institutions by email in the form of two Frequently Asked Questions documents, which can be found here.

Q12. I have a question not covered here. Who can I contact?

A12. If you have reviewed the content of this FAQ and cannot find the answer, please email the Sport Science Institute at: ssi@ncaa.org.


Additional Considerations for Division I Schools

Q13. Are Division I autonomy schools still required to submit a concussion management protocol for review by the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee?

A13. No, not at this time. NCAA legislation requires all Division I institutions to participate in a Concussion Safety Protocol review each year. A waiver of this submission requirement was approved for the 2020 reporting year due to the impacts of COVID-19. In anticipation of a continuing burden on institutional resources across divisions as athletics health care personnel manage and support heavy practice, competition and championship schedules, and in recognition of the availability of the Checklist, corresponding Template and other NCAA educational resources, the CSMAS recommended that the waiver be extended for the 2021 reporting year. As was previously communicated to all Division I institutions by email, the NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee recently approved the recommendation and extended the original waiver for the 2021 reporting year such that no protocol submission will be required for the 2021 academic year. The waiver does not change an institution’s obligation to maintain an appropriate concussion management plan, including a Concussion Safety Protocol that is consistent with the Checklist. 

Q14. If the May 1 protocol submission deadline has been waived, what is the new deadline for Division I autonomy schools to submit their institutional protocols for review?

A14. The 2021 submission deadline has been waived and it is not anticipated that a new submission 2021-22 deadline will be established. We will communicate that information about submission activities to occur after that time frame as that information becomes available.

Q15. Can my institution utilize the Template that was created to conform to the updated Checklist?

A15. Yes. The Template may be used by every NCAA member institution as an educational and compliance tool.

Q16. My institution submitted its protocol in 2019 for review and the Concussion Safety Review Committee confirmed that it was consistent with the Checklist. Do we need to do anything this year?

A16. Division I Constitution 3.2.4.20.1 (Concussion Safety Protocol) was updated in 2019 to require that a Division I institution's Concussion Safety Protocol must be consistent with the Checklist. Because the 2021 Checklist includes material updates, you should carefully review these changes and other relevant legislative and policy requirements and work with applicable institutional medical and other staff to identify and incorporate any necessary adjustments to your concussion management protocol and practices.

Q17. I understand that the May 1 submission deadline has been waived; but can we still submit our updated concussion protocol to the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee for review and feedback?

A17. No. Due to the travel and other resource restrictions and impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, neither the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee nor its designated subcommittee that has historically reviewed Division I non-autonomy opt in submissions will be convening for or conducting protocol review activities at this time. However, the NCAA SSI staff is committed to providing membership with all of the tools and information necessary to identify applicable updates to concussion management practices resulting from the recent Checklist changes and will work, in conjunction with CSMAS as applicable, to respond to all membership questions on the topic. Specific questions about the Checklist or the recent updates should be directed to ssi@ncaa.org.

Q18. I understand that the protocol submission deadline has been waived. Do we still need to sign the annual Compliance Certification Form?

A18. Yes. Division I Constitution 3.2.4.20.1-(g) still requires that a written certificate of compliance signed by the institution’s AHCA be included in the institution’s Concussion Safety Protocol. We recommend that the signed form is kept on file in the office of the institution’s AHCA along with a current copy of the concussion safety protocol and other concussion management materials.

Q19. Is there a specific Compliance Certification Form that my AHCA needs to use to meet the legislative requirement?

A19. No. However, to facilitate and support member compliance with this requirement, the NCAA has developed a standard Compliance Certification Form. A blank copy of the form is included as Exhibit A to the Template and can also be accessed here. We recommend that your AHCA print, sign and keep the form on file in his or her office along with a current copy of the concussion safety protocol and other concussion management materials. While not legislatively required, DII and DIII institutions may also elect at their discretion to keep a written certification on file and those schools can use the sample certification form for this purpose as well.

Updated: April 2021

COVID-19 Advisory Panel roster
Meet the people behind the NCAA's COVID-19 Advisory Panel

In early March, NCAA leadership started planning to create an independent advisory panel to help inform the Association on the emerging COVID-19 virus. There would be evolving information to keep track of, complex questions and tough decisions to be made. The idea was to create an expert team made up of diverse perspectives that could keep NCAA membership informed on the most up-to-date information around this emerging virus, and provide recommendations based on that information.

COVID-19 and Mental Health

COVID-19 has caused disruption to everyone. It is important to be aware of the potential negative impact that a crisis can have on our mental and physical health, often because of a breakdown in self-care. The NCAA Sport Science Institute will be developing webinars and outreach recommendations with the NCAA membership. The purpose of this memo is to provide resources and recommendations that may be helpful now.

General Resources

The CDC webpage on managing anxiety and stress provides a practical overview of self-care and resources. The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides a comprehensive information and resource guide that addresses self-care and community/national resources.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration tip sheet answers questions about COVID-19, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.

Daily Strategies

The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends daily strategies for self-care and awareness. Following is a summary of general recommendations:

  • Space. Create a structured, dedicated work environment, and include regular patterns of self- care.
  • Routine. Try to maintain a routine that reflects your normal day routine, including how you dress and structured breaks for lunch and mini-breaks.
  • Activity. Regular exercise and mindfulness activities are key during times of crisis. Exercise and mindfulness activities help mitigate depression and anxiety while improving cognition and confidence. Develop a daily routine for both, even if this is as simple as a 15-minute walk and/or quiet time with deep breathing.
  • Time and Energy Management. Be mindful of over- or under-working. Try to structure your daily work in a way that mirrors your normal workplace hours. In addition to time management, be aware of the way in which you eat, self-talk, and communicate with others. Self-compassion and self-care provide stability and confidence.
  • Accessibility. Develop ways in which you are accessible to colleagues, friends and family.
  • Face Time and Connectivity. Humans need to feel and be connected. Utilize video tools such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, Facebook and WhatsApp to connect visually.
  • Resources. Map out your important resources, ranging from daily necessities to emergency management.
  • Support. The National Alliance on Mental Health Illness website provides a comprehensive guide to national and local resources. Know that there is help when needed.

Athletics health care providers and athletics staff should forward this message to all strength and conditioning coaches and other personnel who oversee student-athlete exercise and strength and conditioning sessions.

NCAA national office operations during COVID-19

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