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AAC lays out COVID-19 test plan ahead of NCAA announcement

AAC lays out COVID-19 test plan ahead of NCAA announcement
Virus Outbreak College Sports Football - AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

The American Athletic Conference will require all its schools to test football players for COVID-19 at least 72 hours before competition.

The announcement Thursday by the American comes ahead of the expected release of recommendations from the NCAA and the Power Five conferences for testing before games and other protocols related to teams competing during the pandemic.

The Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences have been working together on a minimum standard for testing in their leagues that could be used throughout major college football.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced last week that they would play only conference games in football and other sports this fall to help minimize potential disruptions caused by COVID-19.

The Big East joined those leagues Thursday by going conference-only for the fall season, which for the basketball-focused league includes men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross-country, volleyball and field hockey.

Other FBS conferences have not decided yet on scheduling formats for the coming football season, which appears to be in peril because of the surging pandemic.

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said the testing protocols will apply throughout the regular and bowl seasons. More operational protocols are still being finalized, as are testing protocols for other sports.

“We are committed to meeting or exceeding all guidelines and standards recommended by the NCAA and its member institutions in all fall sports, including football,” Aresco said.

Meanwhile, the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference on Thursday became the third Division I conference to say it will not have a fall sports season. The MEAC, comprising 11 historically black colleges and universities, joined fellow FCS conferences the Ivy League and Patriot League in punting on fall football and other sports, with the hopes of making them up in the spring semester if possible.

“Obviously this is an arduous decision because everyone wants to have a fall season for student-athletes, fans and others,” MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas said.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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