Photo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The NCAA announced new guidelines on Thursday for colleges to follow as they navigate the return of fall sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The directions are designed to help schools respond to and protect athletes from possible community spread of COVID-19. Some universities have abruptly cut sports teams and reevaluated programs because of the economic fallout from the outbreak.

What they're saying: "When we made the extremely difficult decision to cancel last spring’s championships it was because there was simply no way to conduct them safely," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in Thursday's statement.

  • "Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic."

Details: The guidelines call for daily self-health checks, the use of face masks and social distancing when possible, testing strategies for all athletic activities, and testing and results within 72 hours of high contact risk sports.

Go deeper

Aug 12, 2020 - Sports

Big Ten, Pac-12 postpone football as ACC, SEC, Big 12 don't

Photo: James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The slim prospects of a fall college football season have evaporated in a matter of days — but don't tell that to the ACC, SEC and Big 12, which are still trying to make their seasons happen.

The state of play: The Big Ten and Pac-12 postponed all fall sports to the spring on Tuesday. No football, cross country, volleyball, soccer or field hockey.

Aug 12, 2020 - Sports

Sports betting in the age of coronavirus

Reproduced from American Gaming Association; Cartogram: Axios Visuals

When the pandemic arrived, the sports betting industry funneled bettors toward the few sports that were actually happening.

What's happening: Now that sports have returned, the industry has benefited from pent-up demand, while also capitalizing on a busier-than-usual summer, with baseball, soccer, hockey, golf and basketball all in full swing.

22 hours ago - Health

We're doing a lot less coronavirus testing

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. is cutting back on coronavirus testing. Nationally, the number of tests performed each day is about 17% lower than it was at the end of July, and testing is also declining in hard-hit states.

Why it matters: This big reduction in testing has helped clear away delays that undermined the response to the pandemic. But doing fewer tests can also undermine the response to the pandemic.