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Tom Izzo has been an advocate for wearing masks and social distancing, hoping to use his platform at Michigan State as a Basketball Hall of Fame coach to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Despite practicing what he preached, Izzo tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday. It was just the latest example of the challenges facing college basketball to have a season during the pandemic.
“It’s going to be a headache,” Izzo said to reporters on a Zoom call. “I tell my team every day, `How we handle adversity will determine who the champion is going to be – and that includes me.”‘
The positive test will relegate Izzo to leading No. 13 Michigan State virtually while he is in isolation for more than a week.
“Although I have some minor symptoms, I remain in good health,” the 65-year-old Izzo said. “I’ve been extremely diligent for many months now, wearing my mask in public and around the office, while adhering to social distancing guidelines. … And while I haven’t identified any area of exposure, what I have determined is that this shows the power of the virus.”
Associate head coach Dwayne Stephens will lead practices while Izzo is in isolation for 10 days.
“Technology will allow me to stay connected with my staff and our players, and I’ll have plenty of time to watch film,” Izzo said. “I’ll listen to our outstanding medical staff, and follow their directions and take all the steps necessary to return as soon as possible.”
The school says Izzo is the only person in the program to test positive for COVID-19 since daily antigen testing began two weeks ago.
Izzo, who has led the Spartans since 1995, won the national championship in 2000 during one of eight Final Four appearances. He has won the Big Ten regular-season title nine times and the conference tournament six times.