NCAA's top doctor: Testing crucial to having sports in fall

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FILE - In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice in Pittsburgh. Widespread testing for the new coronavirus will be crucial to having college sports in the fall, especially contact sports such as football and basketball, the NCAA's chief medical officer said, Friday, May 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

Widespread testing for coronavirus will be crucial to having college sports in the fall — especially contact sports such as football and basketball, the NCAA's chief medical officer said Friday.

Dr. Brian Hainline expressed cautious optimism that college sports could be played during the fall semester as long as leaders take a methodical approach.

“It’s not going to be risk-free, that’s for sure," Hainline said in an interview with The Associated Press. "If this is rolled out in stages and reasonably, we’re really paying attention to proper surveillance and we get the tests available, I think we can have fall sports. My concern is if we just rush into this too quickly because of this almost sense of desperation, that we just have to get going.”

The NCAA also released guidelines from its COVID-19 Advisory Panel for getting teams up and running on campuses. The guidelines start with students back at school, which has become a familiar refrain among college sports leaders in recent weeks.

The NCAA's recommendations incorporate a recent three-phase plan from the White House for restarting the economy that account for regional differences in the fight against COVID-19 and certain benchmarks being reached.

“Once COVID-19 infection rates diminish for at least 2 weeks, resocialization of society and sport may be possible,” the NCAA guidance states. The NCAA is also recommending a three-phase plan, with practice facilities reopening in phase three.

Hainline participated in a call earlier this week with medical officers of professional sports leagues and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.

“What we really discussed in some detail was: What is it going to take to get sport back? And I will tell you that 80% of the conversation centered around testing,” Hainline said. ”And more specifically, what happens in contact sports like basketball or football, when one of the players tests positive. Does that mean quarantine? Does that mean we do very regular testing?