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Dr. Charles McClelland, SWAC Commissioner, "We're going to have a combination of PCR testing and rapid antigen testing."

POSTED: November 2, 2020 -- 6:50 p.m. CT

As part of today's SWAC Basketball Virtual Media Day, Dr. Charles McClelland, Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner, discussed during his "State of the SWAC" conversation with Sekou Smith, the COVID-19 testing protocol the SWAC will use for the men's and women's conference basketball season which begins January 2021.

Dr. McClelland says the SWAC put together a Medical Advisory panel consisting of medical trainers, doctors, coaches, etc. to communicate with Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA's Chief Medical Officer, to determine the best procedures to maintain the health and safety of the players, coaches, and staff.

"We've been in constant communication with the NCAA Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Brian Hainline," Dr. McClelland said. "He (Dr. Hainline) has been in constant contact with representatives from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and they've been able to merge their documents."

"The first document that we utilize is the Resocialization Plan for Collegiate Athletics that was sent to us by the NCAA; and, it talked about things of testing three times a week; wearing masks; and how to put together these athletic events.

"We actually put together a COVID-19 Advisory Panel in the Southwestern Athletic Conference that was made up of individuals across the spectrum: medical advisors, trainers, doctors, coaches all across the board to say this is going to be in conjunction with what we receive from the CDC and the NCAA. This is going to be the SWAC footprint and blueprint.

Dr. McClelland says the SWAC went a step further and created its own documentation for testing protocol.

"Simultaneously, we put together a fourth document," Dr. McClelland acknowledge. "And, that is the Return to Play document for the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

"One specific thing that we put in that document that's a little bit different from the CDC and the NCAA is we are mandating that we test prior to different contests.

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"So, in the Southwestern Athletic Conference specifically in conference play, we play Saturday; and we play Monday. And, at the end of the season, we actually have a Saturday, a Monday, and a Thursday where our protocol is going to insure that we test prior to each of those competitions; and, they should have a negative test. So, when you play somewhere on Saturday, you'll get an opportunity to travel either that Saturday or that Sunday.

"Sometime between Monday, 5 p.m., you must have tested and those results have to be in no later than 12 noon or some time around that particular time. There is some flexibility in the time on Monday. So, we want to make sure that our student-athletes are safe. We want to make sure that they're healthy; and, it's not just student-athletes. It's going to be coaches. It's going to be officials.

"We also are developing; and, we will have finalized our plan about our bench decorum -- what happens on the bench. We're going to mandate that everyone is in masks. Coaches are in masks. Student-athletes, obviously, won't have to be wearing masks; but, if you're not a game participant, we're going to ask that you wear a mask. So, there's going to be an additional document and guidance that's going to come out; and, we're going to be fluid. As things change, we're going to be able to change.

"And, the last thing that I want to point to specifically is the type of testing. We're going to have a combination of PCR testing and rapid antigen testing. PCR testing can be done prior (athletic competition) to because that takes between 24 and 72 hours; but, we have the ability for rapid antigen (testing) which is less than an hour. So, those game day tests will, obviously, be rapid antigen tests. There still will be ongoing protocols that we will advise and re-advise as the process goes. That is what we're looking at to keep our health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, and participants at the highest priority."

Conference play in the SWAC is scheduled to begin January 2, 2021.

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