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NDSU, Montana State will not see a change in COVID-19 testing protocols despite virus surge

NCAA policy of vaccinated players not having to test will remain

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North Dakota State defensive backs Jenaro Ocama, Jayden Price and Courtney Eubanks get down to the music of Alabama playing in the Fargodome after the 20-14 win over James Madison during the FCS semifinals on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.
David Samson/Forum Communications Co.
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FARGO — The shutdowns hitting college basketball in the last week because of COVID-19 protocols are an uptick that programs were hoping to avoid this winter. Same goes for the Division I FCS national championship game on Jan. 8.

As of Wednesday, North Dakota State and Montana State will see no changes from previous playoff games in regards to NCAA testing policy. That protocol mandates all unvaccinated players and Tier 1 personnel (mainly coaches and administrators) as well as vaccinated people with symptoms to be tested weekly.

NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen anticipates that will continue for the next three weeks.

“We’ll continue to test weekly like we have had to do for each round,” Larsen said.

NDSU has played 14 games with no issues of positive tests.

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“Zero issues, hopefully that continues,” Larsen said.

Moreover, the Missouri Valley Football Conference played all of its league games. Montana State has not had any games affected.

The championship game is slated for Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, a state where there is no mask mandate. Gov. Greg Abbott ended an eight-month mask mandate last March with the stipulation that citizens are encouraged to wear masks in public.

Both NDSU and MSU will be required to submit an “attestation” of vaccine or negative test prior to their arrival in Frisco on Wednesday, Jan. 5. But no testing will be required on site, said David Lentz, assistant director of media coordination and statistics for the NCAA. It will be available for anyone showing symptoms, however.

Larsen said NDSU has a “small number” of Tier 1 personnel who are not vaccinated. If a player does test positive then he will have to go through the usual NCAA protocols of a 10-day quarantine and the testing of close contacts.

“It all depends on when it is,” Larsen said. “If you were to test positive today, you would go through the protocols, but would be eligible to play. A lot of it depends on when.”

The “when” will apparently favor Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and offensive line coach Doug Marrone. Both reportedly tested positive on Wednesday, but are expected to coach in the College Football Playoff semifinal on Dec. 31.

Also, Texas A&M on Wednesday had to pull out of the Gator Bowl because it didn't have enough eligible players. Its Friday opponent was to be Wake Forest.

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College basketball has been the biggest problem, with the NCAA reporting the number of men’s and women’s games canceled has toppled 120.

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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