COVID-19 testing a common practice with Bison football players

North Dakota State athletic director Matt Larsen said the positive COVID-19 tests within his program have had varying levels of symptoms from asymptomatic to mild.

North Dakota State Bison safety James Kaczor (26) reacts to a play in the fourth quarter against the James Madison in last year's FCS title game. USA TODAY Sports

FARGO — When it comes to testing for COVID-19, North Dakota State football players will be well versed on the procedure by the time the Bison and Central Arkansas play on Oct. 3. They’re scheduled to go through four tests in 3 ½ weeks.

The players and selected NDSU staff tested on Sept. 11, Friday Sept. 18 and are scheduled for two more rounds on Friday, Sept. 25 and the following Wednesday, Sept. 30.

The latter is three days before game time.

NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said the speed of the results has gotten quicker over the past couple of months to 24 to 36 hours. The NCAA mandates results be obtained within 72 hours.

“So we’re well within that window right now,” Larsen said.


The NDSU testing is administered by Fargo Cass Public Health with National Guard members doing the leg work with all non-fall sports and football, which encompasses 375 to 400 student-athletes and staff. It begins on testing days at 6 a.m. in the student-athlete commons area at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.

Larsen said the athletic department has seen a few more positive cases since school has been in session.

“Nothing of real concern though,” he said. “We’ve still been able to move forward across all sports, practices or strength and conditioning. We’ve had some kids, whether they’ve been in direct contact, who have had to be quarantined. I think campus has done a good job of the processes and protocols when someone is identified as a positive or in need of being quarantined. They’ve done things like have a food delivery service set up.”

Larsen said the positive tests within his program have had varying levels of symptoms from asymptomatic to mild.

“Knock on wood, there has been nothing really severe,” he said.

Central Arkansas is 1-1 after a 24-17 victory against Austin Peay and a 45-35 loss at FBS Alabama-Birmingham. The Bears were scheduled to play at Arkansas State on Saturday, but that game was postponed to Oct. 10 because of a lack of available players at Arkansas State.

The Arkansas State sports information office said the team couldn’t put together an adequate two-deep chart at a specific position group.

“During these unique times, these situations are bound to occur,” Central Arkansas athletic director Brad Teague told the Log Cabin Democrat newspaper in Conway, Ark. “We have seen it across the nation. We were definitely ready and looking forward to competing against the Red Wolves but we absolutely understand the health and wellness of our student-athletes has to guide all of our decisions.”


The lack of a two-deep chart wasn’t specifically pointed to positive COVID-19 tests.

UCA will host Missouri State the week before traveling to Fargo. Larsen said he’s assuming the Bears have been following the NCAA socialization plan of testing every week during the season. As of two weeks ago, the Bears reported no positive tests within their football program.

UCA announced this week it is allowing 2,000 fans for the Missouri State game at its Estes Stadium.

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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