UConn and Baylor women’s basketball played an absolute classic in last night’s NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, much of the discussion around that game is focused on what Bears head coach Kim Mulkey said afterwards.
During the season, the 58-year old Mulkey, one of the most prominent coaches in the sport, tested positive for the virus back in January, after exposure from a family member on Christmas. The team's scheduled regular season game against UConn was canceled days after her positive test.
Following Monday night's Elite Eight matchup against UConn, Mulkey decided to share her opinion that the NCAA, a week from getting through both the men's and women's tournaments by going to a bubble with strict testing regimens, should scrap the whole setup in order to avoid someone from missing the Final Four.
"They need to dump the COVID testing," Mulkey said. "Wouldn't it be a shame to keep COVID testing and then you got kids that end up testing positive or something, and then they don't get to play in the Final Four? So you need to just forget the COVID test and let the four teams that are playing in each Final Four go battle it out."
It would be a shame if a player had to miss the Final Four for a late test. The far bigger shame, however, would be if there was a totally preventable outbreak at one of the Final Fours because the NCAA stopped doing what has been working. A positive player passing the virus to an older teammate or other person on hand for the games, which have fans in attendance, would be tragic. And even the 20-something players aren't immune from bad bouts of COVID-19. There are numerous professional and college athletes who have reported pretty scary side effects, and we still don't know the extent of long term effects of the virus. Kim Mulkey is way, way off-base here.
While the season has been far from perfect, the NCAA has managed to have both Tournaments with minor issues. VCU being eliminated on the men's side, and UConn coach Geno Auriemma having to miss the first few games on the women's side were certainly unfortunate, but overall the process has been a success. Stopping now would be risking a fumble at the five yard line. Baylor fell to UConn in a dramatic one on Monday, 69-67. The Huskies had a late 19-0 run to get back in the game, and outlasted the Bears at the end, aided by a controversial no-call on the Bears' final possession. UConn will face 3-seed Arizona in the Final Four on Friday, April 2. [
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who tested positive for COVID this season, in the postgame: pic.twitter.com/miLKKxZrQd
— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) March 30, 2021