NCAA Sports

NCAA releases requirements schools and conferences must follow for fall sports

Schools can not require liability waivers for student-athletes and they must cover all COVID-19 related medical expenses

20170316-ncaa-coronavirus Photo by Christian Petersen | Getty Images/TNS

The NCAA logo is pictured in the second half of a game between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on March 16, 2017, at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.

The NCAA Board of Governors announced requirements Wednesday morning that schools and conferences must follow if they plan to resume sports in the fall.

These requirements ranged from health and safety protocols, student-athlete insurance protection and eligibility accommodations.

“Our decisions place emphasis where it belongs — on the health and safety of college athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in the release. “Student-athletes should never feel pressured into playing their sport if they do not believe it is safe to do so.”

The release states the three NCAA divisions must have complete plans for whether their respective fall sports seasons and championships should resume this year by Aug. 21. 

If a division decides to proceed with fall sports, its conferences and schools must adhere to federal, state and local guidelines. They must also follow a more thorough set of guidelines released by the NCAA Sport Science Institute and any subsequent modifications to them. 

All student-athletes must be allowed to opt out due to concerns about COVID-19 and their scholarship must be honored by their school if they do so, according to the release. 

Additionally, schools can not require student-athletes to sign waivers in order to participate in athletics. Such waivers would clear a school of any wrongdoing if one were to suffer injury, loss or damage due to the virus while participating in athletic activity. 

Schools must also cover all COVID-19 related medical expenses for student-athletes to prevent them and their families from paying out-of-pocket expenses, according to the release.

Each division must determine the eligibility accommodations for student-athletes who opt out of participating this fall or for those whose seasons are canceled due to COVID-19 by Aug. 14. 

Those decisions will determine whether student-athletes will gain an extra year of eligibility if their season is canceled or if they opt-out, similar to a waiver Division I spring sport athletes were granted in March.

Postseason play can only take place if less than half of eligible teams in a particular sport cancel their season. If more than half of eligible teams cancel their seasons, there will be no championship for that sport in their respective division.

Any fall championships that are interrupted and postponed can be made up at a later date after considering scientific data at that time concerning COVID-19.

The Pac-12 Conference supported the requirements made by the NCAA Board of Governors, saying many of the requirements, including health guidelines, protection of scholarships and payment for COVID-19 related medical expenses, were “previously established for our own conference,” according to a conference spokesperson.

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