Kim Mulkey’s Baylor Bears won’t be part of the Women’s Final Four, but the basketball coach is hopeful of one thing for the teams remaining in the NCAA tournament — no COVID-19 testing.
Speaking after her No. 2-seeded Bears were eliminated by top-seeded UConn on Monday night in San Antonio, Mulkey advocated that the NCAA stop testing for the Final Four and let the focus be strictly on the basketball.
“After the games today and tomorrow, there’s four teams left, I think, on the men’s side and the women’s side,” Mulkey said, unprompted, during her postgame news conference. “They need to dump the COVID testing. Wouldn’t it be a shame to keep COVID testing and then you got kids that test positive or something and they don’t get to play in the Final Four? So you just need to forget the COVID tests and get the four teams playing in each Final Four and go battle it out.”
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One tournament game thus far has been affected by COVID-19. A first-round men’s matchup between No. 7 Oregon and No. 10 VCU was declared a no-contest because of what the Rams said were multiple positive tests within their program. The Ducks advanced straight to the second round.
Players and coaches at both tournaments have been tested daily and have been wearing devices that help assist with contact tracing. As of Saturday, there had been two confirmed positive tests at the women’s tournament with over 15,400 administered.
The last positive result among the players, coaches and others working at the tournament was reported on March 22 from daily antigen testing. Any false positives are quickly retested using a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, which is considered more accurate.
The NCAA previously said teams need at least five healthy players to compete in a tourney game.
Mulkey herself contracted COVID-19 after contact with a family member who tested positive around Christmas. When she returned to the sideline for a January game against Iowa State, she didn’t mince words when asked if she was concerned that the season be completed amid a pandemic.
“The answer is this: The season will continue on. It’s called the almighty dollar,” Mulkey said at the time. “The NCAA has to have the almighty dollar from the men’s tournament. The almighty dollar is more important than the health and welfare of me, the players or anybody else.
“One conference does this, one conference does that. The CDC says this. Everybody is confused. I’m confused. I’m uncomfortable coaching. I understand, COVID is real. I’ve had it — come talk to me sometime. But I don’t know … all the calls and procedures, that’s gonna go on and make it unusual, uncomfortable for every program. We’re no different at Baylor.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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