Temple football increases COVID-19 testing before Navy game

Temple Athletics switched to using $80 saliva-based tests on Sept. 28.

Temple Football is testing student-athletes and coaches for COVID-19 in Edberg-Olson Hall. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University football tested all 155 athletes and coaches once a week for COVID-19 since student-athletes returned to campus on June 22, said senior associate athletic director Larry Dougherty. 

Starting on Sept. 26, the team slowly increased the amount of tests per week in anticipation of their first game against Navy on Saturday Oct. 10 in Annapolis, Maryland. 

The team started testing student-athletes and coaches twice a week in Edberg-Olson Hall with saliva tests on Sept. 28 and will start testing them three times during the week before a game, Dougherty said. 

Players must be tested often because the American Athletic Conference requires teams to be tested at least 72 hours before a game, according to a conference statement

The third test will be administered by the American the day before each game, and Temple will not be financially responsible for the test, Dougherty said. 

The test administered by the American is an antigen test, while the tests administered by the university are polymerase chain reaction tests, Dougherty added. 

A PCR tests for the genetic material of the virus while an antigen test detects specific proteins on the surface of COVID-19, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The antigen test takes approximately 15 minutes to process results, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A PCR test takes two to three days, according to Norton Healthcare, a healthcare company.

Temple uses the PCR test because “they are a higher-end test and have better efficacy,” Dougherty said.

When the team tested players once a week, the tests cost the university $90 each, but as the team switched to testing players twice a week, the cost dropped to $80 per test because the university switched testing companies, Dougherty added.

“The cost for this [$80] test could even drop a bit,” he added. “There is starting to be a lot of competition, so you know this is just us using a different company.” 

Temple Athletics declined to say which testing company they are using.

Some players were unable to practice this summer at certain times due to contact tracing, which forced the team to change their practice schedule, said head coach Rod Carey. 

“We pushed that back a little because of the different guys getting out of quarantine,” he added. “So we pushed that around so guys that are coming out of quarantine, they’ll get more practices going into game week and Navy week.” 

On Sept. 8, the Owls postponed their game against Navy from Sept. 26 to Oct. 10, The Temple News reported. 

Coaching staff struggled to find a consistent starting group of offensive linemen because some had to quarantine after contact tracing forced them to sit out, Carey said. 

Graduate student offensive lineman Vincent Picozzi quarantined for 14 days but returned to practice on Sept. 30, Carey added. 

In 2019, Picozzi started the Owls’ first eight games of the season before suffering a season-ending injury against South Florida.  

Despite missing some players during practices, Carey is confident the Owls will be prepared against Navy, he said.

“I feel good about where we are right now,” Carey added. “The energy and all that has been good. There comes a point when you just have to play someone else, and we are certainly at that point.” 

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