The NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group has updated its recommendations for COVID-19 testing for college sports, noting fully vaccinated student-athletes and other Tier 1 individuals with no COVID-19-like symptoms may be exempt from routine testing.

Tier 1 individuals are those with the highest risk of exposure at championships and include team travel parties and officials. Student-athletes and other Tier 1 participants who are not vaccinated must continue to undergo testing at NCAA championships.

This new policy became effective starting May 1 for NCAA Championships that have not started, or the next round of competition for those championships that are already underway.

If there is evidence of substantial or high transmission in the community, or if there are COVID-19 variants that escape the effect of the vaccine, then testing may need to resume for fully vaccinated individuals. Such decisions will be made in conjunction with local public health authorities and/or federal guidance.

The advisory group also recommends that member schools consult with their campus experts on testing fully vaccinated dormitory residents after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

Further, fully vaccinated student-athletes and other Tier 1 individuals with no COVID-19-like symptoms do not need to quarantine, be restricted from work or get tested after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Although their risk of infection is low, these individuals should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after exposure. They should isolate themselves from others if they experience symptoms, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19 (including SARS-CoV-2 testing, if indicated) and inform their primary athletics health care provider or physician of their vaccination status from the onset of symptoms to care.

The updated testing guidance also applies to Tier 2 and 3 individuals who may be subject to testing protocols at member schools and championships. Tier 2 individuals are considered at moderate risk to exposure and may include administrators, security, event staff and league staff. Tier 3 individuals make up the lowest tier of risk to exposure and may include housekeeping, catering, sanitation, transportation, media and broadcast workers.

Should state or local authorities require testing of vaccinated individuals, their guidance will supersede this policy and vaccinated individuals will be required to be tested.

The advisory group this week met to discuss the most recent recommendations for fully vaccinated people published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has also provided updated guidance on masking for both nonvaccinated and fully vaccinated individuals. The advisory group recommends member schools consider this updated guidance for their athletics policies. As the logistics of differentiating vaccinated from nonvaccinated individuals at events remains challenging, the NCAA will continue its policy of universal masking and physical distancing for championships with the exception of student-athletes and officials during competition or practice. 

The CDC considers individuals to be fully vaccinated if they have received their single-dose vaccine or second of two doses two or more weeks ago.