Kim Mulkey coached the Baylor women’s basketball team Saturday for the first time since she was sidelined with covid-19, and she left no doubt about how she feels about a season that is proceeding amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“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 going to go on and make it unusual, uncomfortable for every program. We’re no different at Baylor.”
Mulkey became sick after contact with a family member who tested positive. She missed Baylor’s Jan. 2 game at TCU, then, after multiple negative tests, rejoined the team for practice Jan. 4. The team’s season was paused the next day after a positive test, and the No. 6 Bears’ game against Connecticut was canceled, with Big 12 games against Kansas State and Kansas postponed.
In the Bears’ first game since then, Iowa State ended Baylor’s home-court winning streak, which was the longest in Division I, at 61 games. The 8-2 Bears were missing guard DiJonai Carrington and forward Caitlin Bickle, both of whom remain in quarantine, and suited up nine eligible players.
Mulkey’s availability had been a game-time decision. Although she has recovered and told reporters she feels good, she had not regained her sense of taste or smell. Baylor’s next game is Wednesday at Oklahoma State.
Mulkey is not alone in her frustration. Last week, one team determined it would not forge ahead with the season. Virginia’s women had gone 0-5 while trying to field a roster with enough healthy players. Six ACC games were postponed because of the virus and injuries. The Cavaliers’ previous game was Dec. 13, and it had to scrap one game when only six players were available against George Washington
“We have the pleasure of coaching a very resilient group of young women who have fought through injuries, covid-19 protocol and all the mental battles that come with it,” Coach Tina Thompson said in a statement. “... As difficult as it is to end our season in this manner, it is a necessary one.”
Other women’s teams that have ended their seasons because of the virus include Duke, SMU, San Jose State, Cal State Northridge and all of the Ivy League schools. Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M and Maryland Eastern Shore, all historically Black colleges and universities, canceled their seasons before they started.
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