East Carolina’s next men’s basketball game will not be this weekend or Wednesday, and ECU also identified a cluster of 10 positive cases within the Pirate baseball program.
Multiple COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing within the Pirates’ men’s basketball program caused ECU to announce Thursday it paused all team-related activities and postponed its next two matchups — Saturday versus Temple in Greenville and Wednesday at South Florida — to give ECU three straight postponements since it last played Jan. 9 in a loss to the Bulls in Minges Coliseum.
“It’s disappointing, but the thing is we have great medical care and we’ll take good care of our kids and move on once it’s time to move on,” coach Joe Dooley said from his office Thursday afternoon during a virtual news conference. “Obviously, we’ll continue testing and see how the results come in. ... I think a lot of it is how the testing goes and if it goes one way, we’ll do one thing, and if it goes another way, we’ll have an alternative plan. We’re sort of at its mercy.”
ECU’s release about the baseball cluster said contact tracing had already started. The team’s first game is scheduled for Feb. 19.
“The individuals in this cluster have been identified and we are working closely with our partners at the Pitt County Health Department,” the release said. “Contact tracing has been initiated with direct communication to anyone determined to have been a close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.”
The Pirates already had their Wednesday hoops game this for week at Cincinnati postponed because of a positive COVID case and contact tracing of players within Cincinnati’s team. ECU also was not able to play at Wichita State on Dec. 30 because of two positive tests with the Pirates.
The next possible game for ECU (7-3, 1-3) is Jan. 24 versus Memphis in Minges. For now, players will be tested more than they practice.
“Not for the first couple of days, but we’ll be able to do some individual stuff provided that we don’t have any additional positives,” Dooley said. “But as of right now, nobody is allowed in the facility.”
ECU’s women’s team is scheduled to host Houston on Saturday at 1 p.m.
East Carolina’s release said Wednesday night is when the Pirates learned of their men’s basketball positive tests.
“We were informed last night multiple individuals within our men’s basketball program tested positive for COVID-19,” Pirate athletics director Jon Gilbert said in a release. “The affected individuals are isolated and will receive daily monitoring from ECU athletics medical staff. The decision was made to postpone our next two games due to the positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals. We will continue to work closely with our medical staff and follow their guidance on how we move forward.”
With his team paused, Dooley referenced multiple factors like conditioning and mental health for players as they hope to eventually return to game action. Other AAC games this week were postponed because of positive cases at fellow league clubs South Florida and SMU.
“It’s a daily deal, and they are getting tested every day and that is good news, because they know they’re getting tested and have the opportunity to find out in a very timely fashion and we have access to testing,” Dooley said. “But it is a bit of a grind, having to do it every day. That is part of it. Guys want to play and in order to play, that’s what we have to do.”