Basketball game postponed due to positive COVID-19 test

Mitchell Roland, Editor-in-Chief

 While CWU’s men’s basketball team was slated to start their season late last week, the game was postponed after a positive COVID-19 test in the program.

A member of the program’s tier one, which includes players, coaches, and managers, tested positive on Feb. 3. Both a planned scrimmage and the game, which were slated for Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 between CWU and Northwest Nazarene University (NNU), were then postponed on Feb. 11.

The basketball team announced their six-game 2021 schedule on Feb. 4, which means the game was announced after the positive test, while players and coaches were in quarantine.

We work collaboratively with our campus medical staff, our county health officials, and our administration to determine what is in the best interest of the student-athletes and staff, and what is within the NCAA guidelines that our entire conference is adhering to,” CWU Athletic Director Dennis Francois said. “In this situation, the final decision to postpone the game was not until days prior to the game – so on Feb. 4 we were still working towards playing.”

Francois the positive test came from weekly PCR tests the tier one group receives, which are tested through the University of Washington labs. In addition to weekly tests, student-athletes have temperature and symptom checks.

Once a member of the tier-1 tested positive, the athletic department consulted with university administrators as well as local health officials. Francois said part of the NCAA’s COVID-19 protocols allow for local health officials to determine whether a game should be played.

“We just felt that it probably wasn’t in our best interest, the best interest of our student-athletes and coaches and staff,” Francois said, “as well as NNU and their student-athletes and staff to facilitate our game this weekend due to that positive test.”

After the results came back, the group quarantined and did not hold practice. The lack of practice before the game played a role in the decision to postpone it.

“Knowing that we would be coming off an essentially seven-plus days of quarantine, and no practice, and then stepping right into game situations with maybe only one practice under our belt, definitely wasn’t in the best interest of our student-athletes,” Francois said.

Francois said the Feb. 12 scrimmage “was supposed to be a good test run for us and the whole [COVID-19] environment in terms of how to facilitate a game.”

Brandon Rinta, the men’s basketball coach, said while the postponement was disappointing, he understands “why we need to postpone these games.”

“If you’ve been following college athletics, you know that this is part of the equation,” Rinta said. “As far as, this is a possibility when you get into playing games, whether them being canceled or postponed.”

Rinta said the players on the team had a similar reaction when they learned the game would be postponed.

Despite the first game of the season being postponed due to a case of COVID-19, Rinta said he did not have any hesitation about playing this season.

Rinta said during the quarantine, the team remained in contact with each other and held some virtual bodyweight workouts.

If and when the basketball team does play their first game of the season, Rinta said it “will be a big step towards normalcy.”

“Even with the two and a half weeks that we have been able to spend together and practice, we’ve been able to experience a sense of normalcy in all of our lives that we haven’t been able to experience for the last 12 months,” Rinta said. “These student-athletes, basketball is a huge part of their life.”

Rinta said he was appreciative of all the work CWU’s administration has done to get student-athletes back on the court.

According to Francois, the athletic department has been “strict with how we approached it” and none of the positive tests in the athletic department so far could be traced back to athletic participation. Francois said they are a result of “all of the things that people are doing outside of the time when they’re in practice.”

As of now, the men’s basketball team is scheduled to play their first game of the season on Feb. 19 against Seattle Pacific University (SPU) before traveling to Seattle to play SPU on Feb. 20. The NNU game has tentatively been rescheduled for early March, though no date has been announced.

Francois said that before the season started, the athletic department wouldn’t “scramble” to find another opponent if their original opponent cancels a game due to COVID-19.