SAN ANTONIO (AP) — With the final weekend of the women’s basketball tournament in sight, coaches and the NCAA say it would be ‘’tragic” if a player was lost due to a positive COVID test or a team was knocked out of the title chase by coronavirus protocols.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he isn’t opposed to daily tests, but would be OK if they ended it to avoid that scenario; the NCAA says that is not an option.
Auriemma said Wednesday that based on a recent conversation coaches had with medical experts that he understands why Baylor’s Kim Mulkey suggested ending daily testing the last few days of the tournament and thereby eliminating a scenario of a team getting a bye into the title game.
The two Hall of Fame coaches chatted about the subject on the sideline before their Elite Eight matchup Monday night, which UConn won 69-67.
“What Kim was doing was an extension of a conversation of a Zoom call we had with the head of the NCAA medical staff who said to us coaches after the Sweet 16 that having been in a bubble for this amount of time and having been tested every day for this amount of time, the chances someone would test positive between Monday or Tuesday and Friday, Saturday and Sunday. to use their words was remote,” Auriemma said.
The NCAA;s chief medical officer Brian Hainline did say said on that call that chances of a positive test occurring over the next few days was “remote” if the controlled environment the teams and officials have been living in for the past two weeks stays in tact.
There have only been two confirmed positive tests out of the nearly 16,300 administered at the women’s basketball tournament, the last one came nine days ago.
But remote is not impossible.
The NCAA said it will continue its policy of daily antigen testing at the women’s tournament through the championship game on Sunday. While the antigen test has created many more false positives than at the men’s tournament, those are always followed up by a PCR test that has shown that the individual has been negative.
Auriemma, who missed the first two games of the women’s NCAA Tournament while he was recovering from the coronavirus, said he knows there are strong feelings about testing.
“People have various opinions,” he said. “Me, I’m ok if they test. I’m ok if they don’t.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert said Wednesday said while it would be unfortunate if a team were unable to play, there won’t be a delay in the tournament; the team would be forced to forfeit.
“If the team or if an individual or a team were sadly had to move out of the location because the local health authorities — not the NCAA; it’s not our determination, it’s theirs — determined that they couldn’t participate, then they would have to forfeit a game and we would move on,” Emmert said. “And that would be tragic, obviously.”
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