After another positive COVID-19 test, CU Buffs men’s basketball program on pause – BuffZone
On Monday, Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle expressed hope the coronavirus issue affecting his team would remain limited to the three players forced to the sideline last week.
On Tuesday, it became apparent the Buffaloes’ COVID-19 dilemma runs much deeper.
The university announced on Tuesday morning that it is pausing all men’s basketball activities due to COVID-19 protocols. Wednesday night’s game at Arizona, the earliest scheduled conference game in program history, has been postponed. CU said the status of Saturday’s home opener against Washington State remains up in the air, but the likelihood of that game being played just days after announcing a program-wide shutdown appears thin.
Later Tuesday, Boyle confirmed to BuffZone another positive test had been revealed within the program. Boyle declined to identify the person, but did say it was a player as opposed to a staff member. The Pac-12 also announced its game cancellation policy on Tuesday for men’s and women’s basketball, stating that if a team dips down to having only seven scholarship players available, that team can opt to postpone a game while still having the option of playing with a drastically reduced bench.
Boyle said the most recent positive test, coupled with the ensuing contact tracing, left the Buffs at that numerical threshold.
“We need to be cautious with it, having one more positive,” Boyle said. “We’ll deal with it as the days unfold and hopefully have some direction from there. We’re listening to our doctors and medical advisors and heeding their advice.”
Boyle did not rule out playing Saturday’s home date against Washington State, but said his team currently is beholden to the direction of CU’s medical personnel and advisors. A decision on that game is likely to arrive by Thursday. After Saturday, CU’s next scheduled game is Dec. 8 at home against Colorado State, which also has been shut down since Nov. 20, though the Rams are hoping to resume activities this week.
“That’s something that we’re listening to our doctors on,” Boyle said. “They want to get the results of the contact tracing. They want to get the results of the additional tests and we’ll go from there. A lot of things have to fall into place for that (WSU game) to happen. It’s just too early to tell.”
The Buffs opened the season with two wins at Kansas State, defeating South Dakota in the opener before topping the host Wildcats on Friday. CU played both games without senior D’Shawn Schwartz, who tested positive prior to Wednesday’s game against South Dakota and was sent back to Boulder. Redshirt freshman Keeshawn Barthelemy and true freshman Tristan da Silva joined Schwartz on the sideline for the Kansas State game due to contact tracing measures from Schwartz’s positive test.
With Tuesday’s announcement, it seems the Buffs’ COVID-19 problem is more expansive, though Boyle noted both Schwartz, who previously was dealing with mild symptoms, and the latest player to test positive currently are asymptomatic.
“This decision was made under the Pac-12’s basketball policy — Colorado does not have the minimum number of scholarship student-athletes available for the game due to previously reported COVID-19 issues within the program and associated contact tracing protocols,” the Pac-12 said in a statement. “The conference will work with both programs to attempt to find a mutually agreeable date to reschedule the contest.
“Not contesting this game is very disappointing to our student-athletes and our fans. While all of us want to see our men’s basketball student-athletes on the court competing, our number one priority must continue to be the health and safety of all those connected to Pac-12 men’s basketball programs.”
As far as rescheduling the game, Boyle said he has been in contact with Arizona coach Sean Miller, whose program has now had three of its first four scheduled games of the season canceled. Boyle “hasn’t gone there yet” in terms of looking at potential alternative dates, but the mutual windows between the teams are few. Both CU and Arizona play on Dec. 22 and are off until Dec. 31, but obviously playing within that window would require navigating the Christmas holiday. The Pac-12 also included a window in its league schedule during the final week of the regular season, with all 12 teams scheduled to play their one-game rivalry matchups (CU is at Utah; Arizona is home against Arizona State).
In addition to the seven scholarship player threshold outlined in the Pac-12’s game cancellation policy released Tuesday, the league outlined other contingencies that could scuttle games, including:
- Inability to isolate new positive cases within a team or athletic department, or to quarantine high-risk contacts (as determined by local public health and medical staff).
- Unavailability or inability to perform testing as provided by the Pac-12 medical guidelines.
- Campus-wide or local community transmission rates that are considered unsafe by local public health officials.
- Inability to perform adequate contact tracing consistent with governmental requirements.
- Local public health officials of the home team state that there is an inability for the hospital infrastructure to accommodate a surge.