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Pac-12 apologizes for Stanford player's false positive COVID-19 test ahead of Oregon game

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The Pac-12 has apologized for a Stanford player’s false positive COVID-19 test ahead of Saturday’s loss to Oregon.

Stanford announced shortly before it lost 35-14 to Oregon that three players wouldn’t be able to participate in the game. That list of three players included starting QB Davis Mills and top wide receiver Connor Wedington.

Friday, the conference said that it was sorry that the false positive had led to an unnamed player and his close contacts sitting out the Oregon game. The player has been cleared to play this week.

“During Pac-12 game day testing this past Saturday, there were testing protocol errors with respect to a Stanford student-athlete who tested positive for COVID-19. The student-athlete and others who were immediately identified as individuals who would be high-risk contacts if the student-athlete were positive did not play in the game in accordance with Pac-12 protocols and the student-athletes were immediately isolated. Upon return to campus, Stanford, in communication with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee, administered a daily PCR diagnostic testing cadence that has consistently shown that the student-athlete does not have COVID-19 and is thus cleared to resume practice and competition. The Pac-12 medical group has reviewed and supports the decision. We apologize to the Stanford football team and its supporters and especially to the student-athletes who were held out of the game as a result of the testing protocol errors. We are working with our game day testing partner to ensure this type of error does not occur in the future.”

Stanford said after the Pac-12’s statement that four players who were immediately isolated or quarantined after the unnamed player’s false positive were able to rejoin the team because the false positive had been determined to be an invalid result. The Cardinal play Colorado on Saturday.

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Pac-12 has daily testing deal with Quidel

One of the biggest reasons for the Pac-12’s decision to play football in the fall of 2020 is its daily rapid testing deal with Quidel. The conference announced the testing deal before it said it would play football this fall. All players are tested every day and the results are returned in 15 minutes.

While daily testing is a big asset in helping stop coronavirus outbreaks, they can also sometime return false positives. And since the Stanford player’s false positive happened on the day of the Oregon game, there wasn’t time to conduct follow-up testing to confirm the result and ensure that he did actually have COVID-19.

It’s an unfortunate error. But it’s also a product of trying to play football in a pandemic and trying to ensure that players don’t play while they have COVID-19.

Stanford’s game against Oregon was one of four Pac-12 games that were played on the conference’s opening weekend on Saturday. Cal vs. Washington and Arizona vs. Utah were both canceled because of COVID-19 positives and quarantines at Cal and Utah. As of Friday morning, all six Pac-12 games for Saturday are on schedule.

Stanford quarterback Davis Mills (15) passes against Notre Dame in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Stanford quarterback Davis Mills missed Saturday's game against Oregon. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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