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                          Blog #185 - November 2020


College football continues to contend with Covid-19-related game stoppages.  The Southeastern Conference has postponed four games for the weekend of November 14th.  These games will be re-scheduled:  Georgia-Missouri, Alabama-LSU, Texas A&M-Tennessee, and Auburn-Mississippi State.  We can expect many more pandemic-related cancellations as the season progresses.

With college men's and women's basketball seasons scheduled to begin in a couple weeks, the NCAA announced guidelines and considerations regarding basketball officiating this season.  As a former college basketball referee for 23 years, I'm always interested in reading how game officials are viewed and treated.  

The document is well-organized, with Covid-19 Testing protocols listed at the top of the page.  Here are the highlights of the entire document:

COVID-19 Testing.  
1.  Officials are considered Tier 1 individuals who are tested a minimum of three times a week on nonconsecutive days.
2.  Schools and conferences determine how costs associated with testing are managed.
3.  If an official is working only one game in an entire week, game-day testing is an option.
4. For conference-only games on consecutive nights or nonconsecutive nights, a PCR test should be given within three days before the assigned game or an antigen/rapid PCR test on game day.
5. Where testing will occur on game day, assigning conferences need to manage and coordinate testing activities with host institution/third-party testing agencies in agreement with state and local public health officials, including notification of any positive test result.
6.  The time of testing should be determined based on the type of test and start of a 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 needs to have a holding area for officials and ensure they avoid proximity and contact with other individuals until results are known.
8.  Schools need to have protocols in place if  officials' tests are positive or inconclusive, including procedures for notifying applicable government health agencies, procedures to appropriately isolate/provide a holding area, and provide necessary medical care for officials who test positive.
9.  Officials can not "test out of" quarantine requirements (14-day quarantine) if a test resulted in a possible false-positive result.  A quarantine can be shortened if a subsequent PCR test produced a negative test result.
10.  Prevailing CDC guidelines should be followed regarding positive test results, including re-testing and length of quarantine.

Communication.   Host institutions need to communicate to game officials testing times and protocol at the game site, recommended time of arrival for officials, designated point of entry/exit of the facility, screening requirements/protocols needed before entry, availability of locker room, availability of showers, towels, and water bottles, and protocol for use of the athletic training facility and services.

Travel.   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.  Conference coordinators and others involved with scheduling officials should consider whether and to what extent geographically-based assignments might help avoid unnecessary travel risks.  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 arrangements.

Pregame.   Several items are mentioned.  Applicable arrival times, locker rooms, and other relevant facility and meeting locations should be listed.  The host school can decide to hold pregame conferences virtually before arrival or on-site in a location other than the locker room to facilitate proper physical distancing practices.  Host school can allow officials to arrive and depart the facility in their game attire.  Host school can determine if officials can take a post- game shower.  Host school is responsible for keeping the locker room disinfected, hand sanitizer available, and clean towels assigned to each official to be used in the locker room and on the court during the game.  Table crew meeting and captains meeting will take place using masking/distancing protocols in place. 

In-game.   Host schools will consult with conference representatives to determine how best to address all applicable risks related to in-game activities.  These include officials using a c overing on all sides over their whistle, officials sanitizing or replacing whistle coverings at halftime, officials masking/distancing during games with players, coaches, table personnel, and replay officials, 

Postgame.   Host schools will decide whether postgame meals will be available to officials, limiting options to prepackaged grab-and-go items and postgame conferences can be conducted virtually or in the locker room.

As you can see, a lot of thought was put into guidelines and considerations for game officials in college basketball this season.  Covid-19 will play a heavy role in how the season progresses.  But it's good to know game officials will be protected from risks that may arise during games.


Comments or questions? Send to steve@thebestcollegerecruiter.com

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