The Pac-12 announced an agreement with a diagnostic testing company Thursday that the conference said will yield rapid results of coronavirus tests and could hasten the return of sports competitions.

Quidel Corporation is expected to deliver testing machines to each of the Pac-12 schools by the end of September, the conference said in a news release.

Under the new plan, athletes will be tested frequently, results will be available quickly, contract tracing will be less imperative and a burden will be lifted from local health authorities, the Pac-12 claimed.

It was a dose of welcome good news to the Washington State athletic department in Pullman, which in recent days has experienced one of the fastest-growing virus outbreaks in the country.

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

The Pac-12 and the Big Ten announced three weeks ago they were putting all sports competitions on hold through the end of the calendar year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Doug Bryant, president and CEO of Quidel, said the company already had agreements with several unnamed individual schools, according to the Associated Press, but this is its first arrangement with a conference.

“With its well-established medical research program, the Pac-12 is an ideal partner to help us develop and document the most effective coronavirus testing protocol to serve our families and communities,” Bryant said in the Pac-12 news release.

Doug Aukerman, who directs sports medicine at Oregon State, said in the news release the new testing plan “will allow us to learn even more about the behavior of the virus, especially in asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals. The implication is that this can inform the broader medical community on asymptomatic cases as well as our care and treatment for student-athletes.”

BLEDSOE ENTERS PORTAL — Washington State walk-on quarterback John Bledsoe has entered the NCAA transfer portal, Cougfan.com reported.

The son of former Cougar great Drew Bledsoe, is a junior who missed the 2019 season with an injury and saw no action as a second-year freshman reserve the previous year.

He’s the third Cougar to enter the portal since the Pac-12 scrapped the 2020 football season. Outside receiver Tay Martin got picked up by Oklahoma State and defensive back Skyler Thomas changed his mind and announced he’s staying at WSU.

Three of the five Power Five conferences — the Atlantic Coast, Big 12 and Southeastern — still plan to play football this fall.

Dale Grummert may be contacted at daleg@lmtribune or (208) 848-2290.

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