By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Pac-12 Conference announced a partnership Thursday with a diagnostic firm aimed at providing possibly daily coronavirus testing for student-athletes in contact sports.

The conference, which includes UCLA and USC, canceled the fall sports season last month due to health concerns from the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials did indicate that should unspecified conditions improve, they may consider a return to competition for impacted sports after Jan. 1, 2021 – a spring season for football.

Conference officials noted that a major part of that decision was the lack of a robust testing program providing frequent tests and rapid results and said, however, the partnership opens the door to a possibly earlier return of the impacted sports, including football.

“This is a major step toward the safe resumption of Pac-12 sport competitions,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement.

“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. At the same time, our partnership with Quidel, the industry leader in point-of- care antigen testing, will provide crucial research data that will benefit our members’ communities as well as the entire country.”

Testing machines and kits are expected to be delivered to all Pac-12 Conference athletic departments by the end of the month.

Conference officials will meet with their “sport planning committees” in coming weeks to evaluate a possible return to competition.

The testing program will also help relieve local health authorities of the burden of carrying out contact-tracing, officials said.

“This is an opportunity to get our athletes back to activity in a careful and controlled manner while monitoring outcomes,” said Dr. Kimberly Harmon, section head of sports medicine for the University of Washington. “It is win-win for athletics and to better our understanding of strategies to prevent spread during sports.”

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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