The Pac-12 has taken steps to secure coronavirus tests that conference officials hope the fall sport will start earlier than expected.
The conference has partnered with Quidel Corp, the diagnostics company that received FDA approval for an antigen test earlier this year, to provide member universities with daily rapid Covid-19 tests for sports students in close-contact sports.
Larry Scott, the Pac-12 commissioner, hopes the program will help the conference remove state and regional restrictions in California and Oregon that have hampered team practice at several schools so the games can begin by the end of the fall semester.
"I think developments today will help convince us that we can safely do this for our student athletes and it certainly gives me a high level of confidence that we can start competing in January and now maybe even before that. " big breakthrough, "said Scott on CNBC's" Closing Bell ".
The Pac-12, which includes 12 western US schools like Stanford University and the University of Oregon, followed the Big Ten powerhouse to postpone the fall sports season, which may be played in the spring semester. The decisions were made as sites across the country considered whether to hold courses in person, online, or in a hybrid fashion as the country continued to grapple with a global health crisis.
Pac-12 schools are located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Playing sports without fans in the stadium would still cost member schools about $ 50 million in lost revenue. A canceled season would put the sports budgets, much of which is generated from college football revenue, at risk.
The partnership prepares Pac-12 schools with tools for frequent and quick testing before teams enter the field. This will help prevent the virus from spreading among teammates and quarantine entire teams, according to a press release. The conference reported that its fiscal year 2018-2019 had total sales of $ 530 million.
“This is a big breakthrough for us,” said Scott. The Sofia 2 test machines and tests are expected to arrive on campus in late September.
Quidel, based in San Diego, California, believes the partnership will have far-reaching implications than just Pac-12 locker rooms. Douglas Bryant, CEO of Quidel, who appeared on screen with Scott, hopes the quick testing and adjacent research will help the public facilitate return to work plans.
Bryant said the company has been doing research with Pac-12 universities for up to four months. The accompanying investigations investigate whether the test protocols, which include rapid tests at the treatment site before training and playing time, have any effects on environments with close contact.
"We're going to do research that will allow us to understand a lot more about what asymptomatic testing looks like in a large population," said Bryant.