Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma is isolating away from the team on Selection Monday after testing positive for COVID-19, the school announced. He will miss the first and second rounds of NCAA tournament games in San Antonio.
UConn is one of the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA women's basketball tournament and will face High Point in the first round. The game is at 8 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN.
UConn: Auriemma had no close contact with players
Auriemma tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday and is isolating at home, per the school. The coach did not have close contact with any other team member since Friday and all Tier I personnel have so far tested negative for COVID-19, the school said.
He is not experiencing any symptoms and told reporters after the bracket reveal that he has "zero" idea how he contracted the virus since he hasn't done "anything out of the ordinary that I haven't done at any other time this year."
He said his viral loads for the virus were low and that's why it's unlikely he transmitted it to others on the team.
Geno says the medical staff told him his viral loads for COVID were so low that the staff does not think it likely that he transmitted the virus to others on the team
— Alexa Philippou (@alexaphilippou) March 16, 2021
Daily testing for the tournament semi-bubble atmosphere began on Tuesday, March 9, after the Huskies won the Big East tournament championship.
"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 in a statement. "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."
UConn is scheduled to leave Tuesday morning for San Antonio, where the entirety of the tournament is taking place this year.
Will Auriemma coach in tournament?
Auriemma will stay back in Storrs for a 10-day isolation period in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and the state of Connecticut's health department guidelines. He can rejoin the team on March 24, the school said.
He will miss the first-round game scheduled for Sunday and the second-round game, if UConn advances, that will be played Tuesday. He can return to coach the Sweet 16 game, which could be a matchup between Huskies freshman Paige Bueckers and Iowa freshman Caitlin Clark.
Longtime assistant coach Chris Dailey will serve as interim head coach. She is 10-0 while taking over head coaching duties for Auriemma.
Auriemma's positive test comes a few days after he received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on March 10. The vaccine is not fully effective until 14 days after the second of the two shots.
"I'm feeling well but disappointed that I will be away from the team for the next several days," Auriemma said in a statement. "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."
UConn's season was pushed back due to positive tests in the program last fall. They were on a two-week hiatus while other teams got underway in November. Since then they've experienced canceled games because of positives in other team's programs.
The NCAA will have teams on "stand by" in the bubble if a team has to drop out of the tournament because of positive COVID-19 tests. The majority of the Power Five women's teams have the benefit of a week-long break between their conference tournaments and leaving for San Antonio.
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