American Athletic Conference Mike Aresco said in multiple recent interviews that AAC football student-athletes will receive at least two and possibly three tests each week during the season to detect COVID-19.
In July, the conference released some of its testing protocols, which called for “all teams to be tested at least 72 hours prior to each competition.” But Aresco told The Dallas Morning News on Monday that student-athletes will receive two PCR tests per week once the season begins. He added the conference will “look at adding a third test, depending on availability.”
Aresco offered more specifics in an interview with The Athletic on Tuesday. He mentioned that the possible third test would be an antigen test.
“We’re doing PCR testing twice a week and then we’re looking at an antigen test at the end of the week, and it will be a rolling process. There will be meetings early in the week. Obviously, Friday is a big day because then you analyze your (PCR) tests from Wednesday/Thursday testing, and then if you do antigen testing, you’d have another indicator.”
Aresco also told The Athletic that there isn’t a specific number of positive tests within a team or at a certain position that would automatically doom an upcoming game. He said those decisions will be made with the help of phone calls with each participating university’s athletic director as well as with members of the conference’s COVID-19 medical advisory group throughout the week.
“It’s going to be a rolling process; there is going to be communication all week,” Aresco said. “If any red flags appear, you analyze them and see where you are. We’ve got a medical group that’s going to be essentially on call pretty much every day the rest of the way.
“You’re going to look at your contact tracing. You’re going to look at the number of players in quarantine, if any. You’re going to look at all those things, but … this is a very subjective situation.”
The first American Athletic Conference football games are scheduled for this Saturday, with Memphis and SMU both in action. The UCF Knights’ season-opener at Georgia Tech is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 and will be televised on ESPN.
“We’re trying to play safely, we think we can, but we also know that there could be disruptions,” Aresco said to The Dallas Morning News. “This is going to be a fluid situation. But we’ve got our protocols in place. We’re very confident about the stringency of those protocols.
“We’re realists, but we’re also, again, optimistic.”