Wednesday, January 19, 2022

NCAA basketball committees will take COVID-19 absences ‘into consideration’ amid omicron surge

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With COVID-19 issues wreaking havoc on college basketball’s schedule and on rosters within the sport, NCAA leadership released a statement Thursday affirming that it is taking pandemic-created circumstances into account when it comes to evaluating NCAA Tournament resumes. 

“As we typically do, the men’s and women’s basketball committees will track on player and coach availability via the conference monitoring program, which is an invaluable part of the evaluation process for both championships,” Division I men’s basketball committee chair Tom Burnett and Division I women’s basketball committee chair Nina King said in the statement. “Losses are still losses, and wins are still wins, but we will continue taking into consideration the absence of a coach or players, whether they are COVID-related or due to injury or suspension.”

The reassurances come as teams throughout the country deal with COVID-19 cases that, in some cases, are forcing them to play with diminished rosters. No. 25 Texas Tech, for example, dressed just seven scholarship players in its 51-47 loss at No. 11 Iowa State on Wednesday night. Big 12 rules only allow for a “no contest” if a team has less than six scholarship players and one coach available. Other leagues such as the ACC, Big Ten and SEC have set the minimum number of scholarship players at seven.

“We therefore encourage teams to honor conference-developed scheduling and rescheduling policies when the appropriate number of safe and healthy players and coaches are available to compete,” said the NCAA statement from Burnett and King.  “Additionally, our committees will continue to monitor the impact of scheduling disruptions and consider championship eligibility requirements as necessary when the committees meet at the NCAA Convention in two weeks.”

The statement came on the same day that the NCAA announced updated guidelines for winter sports that suggest five days of quarantine for athletes who test positive for COVID-19 instead of the previous 10-day recommendation. The new guidelines say that athletes who have tested positive can play on the sixth through the tenth days and can play without a mask if they test negative. The new guidance still suggests that athletes who are not fully vaccinated quarantine for five days and wear a mask for five additional days if they are deemed a close contact to someone who tests positive.

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