College basketball tipped off last week, but early cancellations and postponements are mirroring those from the bulk of the football season, thanks to COVID-19.
Seven SEC basketball teams have already called off more than a dozen games due to virus issues within university athletics programs, following the myriad of football games canceled or postponed throughout the season.
Disruptions to the college basketball season could be somewhat minimized with the implementation of new quarantine guidelines announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday. These new guidelines call for the 14-day quarantine period following COVID-19 exposure to be shortened to 10 days, or seven days with a negative test result.
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The announcement comes just two weeks before the end of the regular college football season — a season riddled with cancellations, postponements and a whole lot of confusion. The CDC’s new guidelines, however, were announced just in time for the start of the basketball season. It’s just a matter of when, or if, the NCAA and conferences will follow suit.
SEC basketball COVID-19 tracker: Which teams have canceled games, paused activity
NCAA, SEC original protocol calls for 14-day quarantine
The NCAA’s original COVID-19 guidelines for the basketball season recommend testing three times a week. Should a Tier 1 individual, including student-athletes and essential personnel, test positive for COVID-19, the entire team, including staff, should consider quarantining for 14 days.
The SEC Medical Guidance Task Force calls for a 14-day quarantine period for after coming in close contact with COVID-19. This goes for student-athletes, coaches and team members for both fall and winter sports. Any player or staffer who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days starting on the day of symptom onset or the day of the test if asymptomatic.
If the individual in quarantine for 14 days remains asymptomatic, they are allowed to return to play. The SEC said the availability of testing will not shorten the need for a full two-week quarantine period.
Athletic directors say new guidelines are a ‘big damn deal’
Although the NCAA and individual athletic conferences have yet to follow suit in following the CDC’s new quarantine guidelines, some higher-ups in the college athletics world are leaning toward the idea, according to a report from Sports Illustrated.
Sports Illustrated said college administrators and physicians expect most conferences to adjust their quarantine protocols to reflect the latest from the CDC.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Sports Illustrated he doesn’t expect an “immediate impact” from the latest quarantine protocol news, but “I am sure our doctors and consultants will discuss.”
West Virginia athletic director and NCAA D1 councilwoman Shane Lyons told Sports Illustrated she knew of the possibility of the CDC’s latest news.
“This is big news, especially for basketball season and as we finish play in football the next month and a half,” she said.
Sports Illustrated said another athletic director said this was a “big damn deal” and a team physician said it was “very big.”
Mike Racy, Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association commissioner, said the CDC’s newest guidelines was “great news.”
“Very important development for our campuses, students and faculty,” Racy said. “Will also greatly assist @NCAADII basketball and @TheMIAA men’s and women’s (basketball) seasons!”
Great news from the CDC about possibly modifying the quarantine time period. Very important development for our campuses, students and faculty.
Will also greatly assist @NCAADII basketball and @TheMIAA men’s and women’s 🏀 seasons! https://t.co/f7IUJEEEiS
The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach said she expects the CDC’s new policies to be adopted by athletic conferences’ medical advisory groups “as soon as possible.”
Each college athletic conference’s medical advisory group will need to sign off any changes to testing/quarantine protocol, but I’d expect these policies to be adopted as soon as possible. https://t.co/HTy4U05B8z
LSU football’s Ed Orgeron: ‘I think it will help us’
When asked if the shortened quarantine period would have made a difference earlier in LSU’s football season, coach Ed Orgeron said it could help the rest of the season.
“Obviously, that’s not in my wheelhouse, but the less the better. If they approve it, I think it will help us,” he said on the SEC teleconference Wednesday.
LSU’s matchup against No. 1 Alabama originally scheduled for Nov. 14 has been rescheduled for Saturday, and the new date for Ole Miss has yet to be determined.
Tennessee football gets first COVID-19 cases of season; basketball paused
Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt said Monday the two players tested who positive for COVID-19 last week would be available for Saturday’s matchup against No. 5 Florida.
“We do have some guys that are in quarantine that won’t be able to practice this week but will be able to play on game day,” Pruitt said. “It’s an unusual circumstance. We’re working through it. The next guys are getting ready to play.”
In regards to the SEC’s quarantine requirements, Pruitt said they were “not ideal.” Some Vols players are going into quarantine and some are coming out, making the contact tracing process different for each instance.
“The (doctors) look at it, and they go through our local health department with the exact quarantine – when people are in, when people are out – so that’s what we go by,” Pruitt said.
The Tennessee men’s basketball team has canceled its first four games of the season due to COVID-19 issues.
COVID-19: Tennessee football has two positive COVID-19 cases but expects to have most of team available
Ole Miss football activities canceled; Lane Kiffin takes shots at SEC teams for cancellations
Earlier this season, Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin took some shots at the rest of the SEC and their COVID-19 cancellations and postponements.
He hinted that teams might not feel comfortable playing with the number of players it has after COVID-19 rules out some players.
“I guess injuries are counting in those numbers that people can get out of playing,” Kiffin said on Nov. 11. “I don’t know. Maybe some people don’t want to play. Maybe their season’s not going good. So who knows?”
Wednesday morning, Ole Miss was forced to cancel football team activities due to COVID-19 issues within the program “out of an abundance of caution.”
The university said the affected players and staff are following COVID-19 safety measures. The Rebels’ final two games of the season — LSU and No. 6 Texas A&M — have yet to be rescheduled.
Daniella Medina is a digital producer for the USA TODAY Network. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: CDC’s shortened COVID-19 quarantine guidelines: What it means for college basketball, football