Multiple members of the Gophers men’s and women’s basketball teams have tested positive for COVID-19, affecting preparations with the season opening later this month.
The Gophers men announced Tuesday that team activities have been paused indefinitely, and a team spokesman confirmed that the Gophers women’s team paused workouts last week before resuming practices Friday.
The men’s team is preparing to open its season Nov. 25 against Wisconsin-Green Bay at Williams Arena. The women’s schedule hasn’t been announced, but teams can open their season as soon as Nov. 26.
“The [men’s] team will resume activities once it is cleared to do so,” the team spokesman said in a statement.
The Gophers did not give details about how many players or staff tested positive, but sources said there were multiple positive tests for both basketball teams with no severe symptoms.
After returning to practice Friday, the Gophers women’s team did one-on-one skill work and some Zoom conferencing. The hope is a string of consecutive negative tests will allow the team to resume full practice by the end of the week.
The Gophers men have been communicating virtually, too. They expect to return to practice with enough time to prepare for the season.
Having to halt team activities during the pandemic isn’t isolated to Minnesota’s college basketball teams. It has happened around the Big Ten and the country the past several months.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo announced Monday that he tested positive for COVID-19 but remained in good health.
“We want what’s best for the players from a safety standpoint,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said last month. “You’re going to have to anticipate some type of disruption. That’s just the reality of it. If you don’t create a bubble like the NBA did and the NHL did, you’re going to have people test positive. You’re going to have quarantines and isolations.”
The NCAA encourages college hoops programs to quarantine for two weeks if a player, coach, trainer, equipment manager or the like becomes infected.
The NCAA’s Division I Council states that college basketball teams at all levels should conduct COVID-19 tests three times a week on nonconsecutive days to participate in competition during the season. Before the season, teams have at least tested weekly during the pandemic.
Recent COVID-19 test results from the Gophers athletic department from June through October revealed 9,846 tests with 160 positive cases, according to the U.
Gophers athletes who test positive enter protocol and quarantine, but they have access to resources and communicate with the medical staff. They must undergo additional testing and be cleared by a physician before being permitted to return to activities.
Contact tracing determines who was at risk for exposure.
“We’re getting tested twice a week,” women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen said last month. “A lot of it is out of my control. Like everybody, you’re trying to just do the best you can. … This pandemic and this situation kind of recentered us all in that. We all have a common goal and responsibility to each other.”
Star Tribune staff writer Kent Youngblood contributed to this report.