ST. GEORGE — Southern Utah’s women’s basketball team paused activities due to a positive COVID-19 test for an individual identified as being “tier 1.” The Thunderbirds canceled their games at University of Montana scheduled for Thursday and Saturday.
The announcement came Wednesday after the individual received the positive test results the night before. The university could not disclose whether the positive test was for a player or a staff member.
The NCAA defines a tier 1 individual as someone “for whom physical distancing and face coverings are not possible or effective during athletic training or competition.” This includes the student-athletes and staff that has direct contact with them, including coaches, athletic trainers, medical staff, equipment staff, et cetera. It also includes game officials.
“We’re extremely disappointed that our women’s team will not be able to make this road trip, but we need to put the health and safety of our team and our opponents first,” SUU Director of Athletics Debbie Corum said in a statement.
The two games against the Lady Griz were scheduled as the Thunderbirds’ first Big Sky conference games of the season. The games will be declared non-contests and will not be rescheduled per Big Sky policy.
They are the second and third games canceled on the schedule for the SUU women’s team, which saw its Nov. 25 season opener against University of Utah canceled due to a positive test in the Utes’ program. The only game SUU has played, a 47-58 loss to Utah Valley on Saturday, came about as a last-minute schedule change after UVU could not play its scheduled game against the Utes on the same day.
The SUU men’s team has so far successfully played their two scheduled games, but that is quickly becoming the exception. Every Division I college in Utah has had at least one men’s or women’s basketball game canceled already with the exception of Utah State.
SUU’s three canceled women’s games is the second most by a Utah team, one behind Utah Valley, which paused activities just two days after playing the Thunderbirds and had to cancel all games through Dec. 12. Dixie State could not play either of its home openers against BYU or Weber State due to COVID-19 complications.
It is unknown how long activities will have to be paused. NCAA protocols recommend that if there is a positive test among tier 1 individuals, all remaining tier 1 individuals must quarantine until cleared via contact tracing and testing. In the case of Utah Valley, its outbreak necessitated the immediate cancellation of all games within 14 days. For now, SUU is still scheduled to play William Jessup in Cedar City on Dec. 9.
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