NCAA Updates COVID-19 Guidance For Winter Sports

After multiple event cancellations over the past month, the NCAA has updated its guidance for winter sports competing during the current COVID-19 surge due to the highly contagious Omicron variant.

For the winter guidelines, the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group has developed a definition of “fully vaccinated” that considers both vaccination status and other immunity factors that may impact risks for Tier 1 individuals, including student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, medical staff, equipment staff and officials.

“The omicron variant has presented another surge of cases across the country,” says NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline. “This guidance was designed to align with the latest public health directives. Given how the pandemic continues to evolve, it’s important that staff on member campuses continue to work with their local and state health officials on protocols most suitable for their locations.”

Those considered fully vaccinated include people:

  • Within two months of having completed the primary series of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (one dose).
  • Within five months of having completed the primary series of the mRNA Pfizer vaccine, or within six months of having completed the primary series of the mRNA Moderna vaccine (two doses for both).
  • Who have received a booster vaccine if they are beyond two months of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or beyond five or six months of the mRNA Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, respectively.

A person who has had a documented COVID-19 infection in the past 90 days is considered the equivalent of “fully vaccinated.”

The updated guidance also extends to close contacts. Those who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine at home for five days with no participation in athletic activities, followed by masking for five additional days. Participation in athletic activities without a mask can be considered during days six through ten, following a negative PCR/NAAT test or antigen test.

The NCAA guidance was developed in consultation with the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Working Group, and Autonomy 5 Medical Advisory Group. They also take into consideration available recommendations from the CDC.

Steven Boero