The women’s NCAA basketball tournament had some unexpected news break just ahead of the selection show (7 p.m. Eastern, ESPN) Monday. That would be the news that Geno Auriemma, the head coach of the UConn Huskies (24-1, No. 1 in in both the AP and coaches’ polls, and coming off a 73-39 win over Marquette in the Big East tournament championship game last Monday; Auriemma is seen above during that game), has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Here’s more on what’s ahead for Auriemma and the Huskies from UConn’s athletics site:
UConn head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, March 14. The Hall of Famer is isolating at his home and is not experiencing any symptoms.
Contact tracing protocols revealed that Auriemma did not have close contact with any other team member since Friday, March 12. All Tier I personnel have tested negative for COVID-19 since daily testing commenced, per NCAA Tournament protocol, on Tuesday, March 9.
“After we received notification of the positive test result yesterday, we initiated contact tracing protocols, which included interviewing individual members of the basketball program and in-depth video analysis of practice,” director of sports medicine and head team physician Deena Casiero said. “Only household close contacts were identified. Given the fact that we have been doing daily testing for the past seven days, we feel confident that we were able to catch this very early on in the disease process. The remainder of Tier I tested negative yesterday and today.”
The whole women’s tournament is being held in Texas this year, with most games in San Antonio but some first-round games in Austin and San Marcos. The Huskies are certainly going to be a #1 seed (and likely the #1 overall seed; they’re the only AP Top 25 team with only one loss, which in their case came Jan. 28 against the Arkansas Razorbacks), but they’ll be heading into their first game without their head coach now. As per CDC/Connecticut Department of Public Health guidelines, Auriemma will continue to self-isolate at home for 10 days and can’t rejoin the team until next Wednesday, March 24. And the UConn release notes that Auriemma received his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine March 10, but is nine days shy of fully-vaccinated status (as per CDC guidelines). Here’s his statement from that release:
“I’m feeling well but disappointed that I will be away from the team for the next several days,” Auriemma said. “Fortunately, I have a great coaching staff who will lead us during my absence. This revelation is a reminder that, while there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we are not on the other side of this pandemic yet. The full effect of vaccines does not occur until 14 days after our last vaccine dose, and for those of us getting two-dose vaccine, that means we’re not in the clear after just one-dose. My team and I need to remain vigilant in the areas of mask-wearing and social distancing as we continue this fight against COVID.”
Our best wishes go out to Auriemma as he recovers. And we’ll see how the Huskies do without him in their first game of the tournament.
[UConnHuskies.com; photo from David Butler II/USA Today Sports]