NCAA releases COVID guidelines for fall sports


Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

The NCAA released its COVID-19 guidelines on Wednesday for the fall season. The guidelines apply to Tier 1 individuals, which includes student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and others with the highest exposure. 

“Current vaccination rates remain inadequate to provide community-level immunity,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline said. “It is essential that member schools work in concert with federal, state and local public health officials to develop COVID-19 prevention and management strategies that make sense for them.”

Masks and social distancing are no longer required during games this season, regardless of vaccination status, but everyone associated with a team will have to wear a mask while traveling. 

Under the new guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals will only be tested if there was a documented exposure or if the team was exposed. Vaccinated individuals will not have to quarantine if they test negative between three and five days after the original exposure. 

Fully vaccinated individuals can avoid testing if the exposure assessment determines that the risk is not high enough. However, vaccinated individuals will have to wear a mask 14 days after exposure, even if they test negative. 

Unvaccinated athletes that are exposed are recommended to quarantine according to local guidelines.

Regardless of vaccination status, the NCAA suggests that athletes and staff members that test positive isolate for 10 days. The guidelines suggest that players should exercise in isolation. 

At SEC Media Days, Head Coach Nick Saban said almost every football player is vaccinated. 

“I think that we’re pretty close to 90%, maybe, of our players who have gotten the vaccine,” Saban said. “And I’m hopeful that more players make that decision, but it is their decision.”

Alabama has recruited medical professionals to educate players and staff on the COVID-19 vaccine, and Saban encouraged Crimson Tide fans to get vaccinated in May. 

Alabama wide receiver John Metchie III complimented the program’s effort to educate the team.

“I think at Alabama, our coaches and our staff has done a great job of just informing us, bringing people in to talk to us and make us aware,” Metchie said at SEC Media Days. “And I think at the end of the day, everybody just has to make the best decision they think is best for themselves and their family.”