NCAA addresses COVID-19 guidelines, basketball scheduling

The NCAA updated its recommended pandemic-related protocols for winter sports athletes and teams to follow the latest federal guidelines on Thursday and also issued a statement to address the scheduling chaos that has hit college basketball for a second consecutive season.

Anyone will be considered fully vaccinated within two months of receiving a Johnson & Johnson single dose, within five months of completing both Pfizer doses or within six months of completing the Moderna doses. Under the guidelines released Thursday, anyone beyond those timeframes will have needed to receive a booster to be considered fully vaccinated.

The NCAA is also recommending five days of quarantine after a positive test, which falls in line with recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NCAA members do not have to follow the guidance, but many have already taken similar steps when it comes to quarantine and isolation protocols. A growing number of schools are looking at a return to online classes and mandatory boosters for students and staff; Michigan and other schools are also requiring proof of vaccination for fans who hope to attend games or other big events.

The Division I men’s and women’s basketball committee chairs — Southland Conference commissioner Tom Burnett and Duke athletic director Nina King — said in their statement that the committees would track player and coach absences through information provided by conferences and evaluate their impact on teams’ tournament resumes.

“Losses are still losses, and wins are still wins, but we will continue taking into consideration the absence of a coach or players, whether they are COVID-related or due to injury or suspension,” the statement said. “We therefore encourage teams to honor conference-developed scheduling and rescheduling policies when the appropriate number of safe and healthy players and coaches are available to compete.

“Additionally, our committees will continue to monitor the impact of scheduling disruptions and consider championship eligibility requirements as necessary when the committees meet at the NCAA Convention in two weeks.”

In the two months since the Division I basketball season began, more than 660 men’s and women’s games have been postponed or canceled because of COVID-19.

NCAA spokesman David Worlock said the part of the statement pertaining to schools adhering to conference scheduling policies was not a response to the impromptu scheduling of the San Francisco-Loyola game played in Salt Lake City on Thursday.

“That wasn’t a reaction to anything specific,” Worlock said. “The committees understand conferences are trying their best to ensure teams that have enough healthy players and staff to play games and reschedule those games that have been postponed, to get as many games in as possible.”

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