The Pac-12 will soon be able to provide its student-athletes with daily coronavirus testing after entering into a deal with Quidel Corporation, a manufacturer of FDA-approved rapid tests for a number of medical conditions.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott called the development a "game-changer" and said the availability of rapid testing will allow the conference to consider resuming competitive activities before Jan. 1, 2021. Scott didn't provide a firm timeline for how it will impact the conference's return to play because of other to-be-determined variables.
"We still have six universities -- our four California schools, our two Oregon schools -- that don't have the requisite approvals from public health authorities to engage in contact practice at the moment," Scott said. "Even if we were ready to start tomorrow, we couldn't start what we know as training camp."
Scott said he and Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren have discussed the possibility of starting their conference schedules at the same time, which could allow a modified bowl schedule to take place involving the conferences, which share a long history as bowl partners.
Quidel's Sofia 2 testing machine is expected to be available on each Pac-12 campus by the end of this month and will allow the conference's Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative to conduct large-scale research on the effects of COVID-19. Scott said the prices of the tests are confidential but will be covered by the member schools.
"This is a major step toward the safe resumption of Pac-12 sport competitions," Scott said. "The availability of a reliable test that can be administered daily, with almost immediate results, addresses one of the key concerns that was expressed by our medical advisory committee, as well as by student-athletes, coaches and others."
Scott said the partnership with Quidel would provide research data "that will benefit our members' communities."
Last month, the conference announced that it was postponing all competitive sports through the calendar year, citing the need for "rapid point of care tests" as part of its decision.
The Pac-12 is the first conference in the country to enter into a leaguewide daily testing program, but Quidel president and CEO Douglas Bryant said there are several well-known college football programs that have deals with the company.