NCAA Calls for New Guidelines to Play

Alexa Martin, staff writer 

With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases across the country due to the omicron variant, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and Augsburg have responded by implementing new protocols that protect student athletes. Without a booster shot, an athlete is not considered to be fully vaccinated if they received their initial vaccination more than 6 months ago, changing the definition of being “fully vaccinated.” This change is meant to make sure that athletes, coaches and other athletic staff are better equipped to face COVID-19 during their seasons.

As of now, the new rules regarding what is “fully vaccinated” means that you are within two months of Johnson & Johnson vaccination, you are within five months of the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, or within six months of the second dose of your Moderna vaccine. If you are outside of the time frames above, it is recommended that the athletes receive the booster shot. 

Athletes can choose to stay unvaccinated, but will have to undergo weekly testing otherwise they will not be eligible to practice. This testing will be independent, unlike last year when weekly testing was done on campus in Kennedy Center provided by Augsburg. 

Starting immediately, concessions will no longer be offered at sporting events. Also, capacity at games will now be limited to 50% in order to maintain proper distancing. Masking is still required at all times. 

Needless to say, there are some mixed emotions on these new guidelines across campus. When asking athletes what they think, there were some interesting responses. All of the athletes interviewed are current athletes at Augsburg and asked to be kept anonymous. Please note that these athletes do not speak for their whole team but that this is their take on the guidelines that have been put in place by the NCAA. 

 “I don’t mind the guidelines, the NCAA seems to be trying to find ways to keep both athletes and the staff as healthy as they can be,” said a current softball player. “I wish that we were told earlier on, not the Friday before coming back from break.” 

“I think the new guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals can be helpful in some ways,” said a lacrosse player. “It is nice to be able to not quarantine if symptoms do not develop; this makes it so you’re able to go about your daily life for the most part. On the other hand I think the new guideline can hurt too. Someone could be positive from exposure and be unaware of it. Overall, yes, I think the new guidelines are helpful in some situations, but I also think they could do more harm than good.”

These are just the initial reactions from a few athletes regarding the guidelines of fully vaccinated. Head Athletic Trainer Missy Strauch was reached out to and asked to provide more clarity to the guidelines and what steps the Athletic Department is taking to support their athletes and staff, however, there is no response from Strauch at the time of writing. The Echo hopes to do a follow up interview with Strauch to gain more insight into the guidelines.