Syracuse, NY – Syracuse University has entered a ‘hiatus’ phase for its men’s basketball program, following the announcement Sunday night that Jim Boeheim and another person in the program have tested positive for Covid- 19.
What this break means is not entirely clear at the moment. The League cannot, for the foreseeable future, practice together as a team. Boeheim must isolate himself from his team for 10 days, then prove he has no fever for 24 hours without using antipyretic drugs.
The problem is the quarantine period for players and staff who have not tested positive and whether Onondaga County officials will be moved by an innovative follow-up process in the men’s basketball program that hopes to eliminate the need for each player to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
Players, coaches, and other Level 1 staff (track and field coaches, physiotherapists, medical staff, equipment staff, etc.) in Syracuse wore wristwatch-like devices designed to measure how well each individual gets closer to another individual during training. SU hopes to use the data recorded from these devices to define what “close contact” is, thus preventing their entire team from being quarantined for 14 days after someone tests positive in the program.
But because the technology is new to the team, and the Onondaga County Health Department is determining what constitutes “close contact,” no one currently knows the scope of an SU quarantine.
That could change this week.
Onondaga County Director Ryan McMahon said today that county health officials plan to postpone a postponed meeting with the basketball schedule this week. The county “wants to see the technology and understand it.”
The question is whether the data recorded on these devices provides a more precise level of contact tracing than the county’s usual process of identifying close contacts. If Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr Indu Gupta “gives the blessing,” McMahon said, the county will use the data from these basketball devices to determine the contact tracing for the program at the. to come up.
“You can micro-target tracing as far as no human can,” McMahon said. “It is what it is.”
McMahon wished Boeheim good luck on Monday and said Dr Gupta spoke with the Syracuse coach. He expects the county to have an answer for SU before his first game.
“We’re interested in seeing this technology,” McMahon said, “and we’ll have a decision if we’ll use it instead of contact tracing in particular, and then we’ll specifically look at the current state (of the team). “
To be clear, these wearable devices are the only reason SU might be able to escape a 14-day team quarantine.
The 14-day quarantine for close contact is a recommended NCAA guideline. CCA policy also requires that any team member identified as close contact be quarantined for 14 days and “must complete the full quarantine before resuming activities.” Neither ACC nor Onondaga County allow quarantine to be “tested”, meaning that the full two-week quarantine period must be completed even if close contact subsequently records negative tests.
League spokeswoman Sarah Scalese said in an email today that there was not much more to share about the situation in Syracuse at this time.
“The men’s basketball program continues to be on hold at this time, which means that no basketball related activity is currently underway,” said Scalese, senior vice president of communications for SU. “The program follows guidelines from the Onondaga County Health Department, ACC Medical Advisory Group and CDC. All members of the program will be retested tomorrow, when we will assess the next steps, including the opening of the season. “
The season opens in 11 days. A spokesperson for Bryant said this morning that he had heard nothing about a change in the status of the game; it’s probably a few days away from a decision.
Iona has already deleted a match from her schedule and will likely be retiring from Mohegan Sun’s giant ‘bubble’ matches as well. (This venue is expected to host games involving approximately 40 college basketball teams starting at the end of the month.)
Iona is one of the few schools in New York State to have recorded a recent positive Covid test as part of their men’s basketball program. Brian Beyrer, Iona’s senior associate athletic director, said today that the Gaels’ break means no athletic activity will take place for the men’s basketball program during his two-week quarantine period.
In Iona, players must isolate themselves in their rooms. The school provides food and delivers it to their doors. An exercise bike, Beyrer said, is installed in each suite so players can continue their cardiovascular workouts. Iona imposes its own set of regulations on students / staff who test positive for Covid-19. Since basketball players live in dormitories on campus, they are required to follow the strictest quarantines, Beyrer said.
At Iona, who announced her hiatus last Thursday, officials are still trying to work out the exact start date of quarantine and what that means for a restart of the program. Beyrer expected to learn more at a staff meeting this afternoon.
“You test and then you don’t get the result for a day or two. You act like everything is normal because these are regular surveillance tests, ”he said. “It’s not like the symptomatic case where you are symptomatic and isolate yourself until you get the result. We test and then act like everything is fine. A few days after getting the (positive) test results, they were all still together. “
The Gaels were scheduled to debut with Fordham on Nov. 25, the NCAA start date for men’s college basketball. This match will not be played, given the 14-day quarantine restrictions, Beyrer said. The games at Mohegan Sun were scheduled for November 29, December 1 and 2 and fall on an ambitious schedule for a return to basketball.
“It’s 14 days but really, you look longer because you really haven’t done anything for 14 days,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to participate in the Mohegan Sun. We were supposed to get there on the 27th (November). We would have practice, then we would have to wait for the test results when we got to Mohegan, and then maybe do a practice the day before our first game. So it’s a real training and a half and then we play three games in four days. It wouldn’t have been safe either.
Syracuse is scheduled to open with Bryant on November 27. The entire Orange schedule has not been released, but a December 8 date at Rutgers and a December 12 game against Boston College (the ACC’s first game) have been announced.
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Donna Ditota is a reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard and Syracuse.com. Do you have a comment or a story idea? Reach her at [email protected].