The Big Ten announces enhanced medical protocols for scheduled season restart


Brian Goldsmith, General Assigment Reporter

 EAST LANSING- The Big Ten Conference has adopted new testing protocols amidst the announcement that the season will begin on Oct. 23-24.

The medical protocols are designed to ensure that players who test positive will be able to be isolated from the rest of the team without spreading the virus. Previously, the Big Ten presidents and chancellors were worried about the prospect of an athlete unknowingly spreading the virus while awaiting a testing result. 

Under the new guidelines, all 14 universities will be required to appoint a Chief Infection Officer to monitor all COVID-19 protocols and ensure the safety of the student-athlete community.  The 14 institutions will also establish a cardiac registry in an effort to examine the link and address different aspects of Covid-19 and myocarditis. 

The Big Ten will require all team personnel, including student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other team staff members who are on the sidelines during practices and games, to undergo daily antigen testing. Student-athletes who test positive initially through a point-of-care test (POC) will be required to undergo a polymerase chain reaction test (PCR) in order to confirm the results of the POC test.  

Today, the Big Ten also laid out the testing thresholds for teams to continue to play if members of an athletic team tests positive:

  1. Team positivity rate (number of positive tests/the total number of tests administered):
    • Green 0-2%
    • Orange 2-5%
    • Red >5%

2.      Population positivity rate (number of positive individuals/total population at risk):

    • Green 0-3.5%
    • Orange 3.5-7.5%
    • Red >7.5%

Decisions to alter or halt practice and competition will be based on the following scenarios:

  • Green/Green and Green/Orange: Team can continue with normal practice and competition.
  • Orange/Orange and Orange/Red: Team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).
  • Red/Red: Team must stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and reassess metrics until improved.

Any athlete who tests positive for COVID-19 will have to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing, including labs, biomarkers, an Echocardiogram (EKG) and a cardiac MRI. Following the cardiac examination, student-athletes will have to receive clearance from a university designated cardiologist before returning to the field. At the earliest, student-athletes who test positive for COVID-19 can return to in-game competition 21 days after their initial positive COVID-19 test.  

Daily testing for student-athletes will begin on September 30.