By Marty Gordon
The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is moving ahead with plans for football this fall, and Friday the league announced several enhancements to its COVID-19 protocols. Under the advisement of the league’s Medical Advisory Group (MAG), increased testing and additional cardiac evaluation standards are two specific areas that have been refined in the report.
The MAG report was first released on July 29 (ACC Announces Plans for Football and Fall Olympic Sports). It outlined minimum standards for each campus to follow in the areas of testing, reporting positive test results and protocols for cleaning and sanitizing competition areas.
The protocols announced Friday call for all team members in football, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball to be tested three times each week beginning with the first week of competition. According to a press release, one molecular (PCR) test must be administered within three days of the day of competition. In football, one test must be performed the day before competition and another within 48 hours of the conclusion of the game. The test administered the day before competition will be conducted by a third party selected by the ACC office.
The updated report also specifies that every student-athlete who tests positive will undergo a cardiac evaluation that includes an electrocardiogram, a troponin test and an echocardiogram before a phased return to exercise.
In addition to the ACC MAG report, the ACC has significantly adjusted its 2020 football operations and game management protocols to eliminate all non-essential personnel from the sidelines and team auxiliary areas.
Individuals that are deemed essential to sideline access will be required to meet specific and consistent health and safety standards as agreed upon by all 15 schools, including a temperature screening, a symptom check, physical distancing and universal masking.
Student-athletes who test positive will also undergo a cardiac evaluation that includes an electrocardiogram, a troponin test and an echocardiogram before a phased return to exercise.
The announcement came shortly after several ACC football programs said they have had a large number of COVID-19 positive tests. Virginia Tech-NC State football game was postponed when State reported an increased number of cases. The school shut down practice and other operations last week but plans to resume next week.