The Duke women’s basketball team has ended its season amid the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced on Friday.
“The Duke women’s basketball team’s student athletes made the difficult decision to end their current season for safety reasons,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president of public affairs and government relations and chief communications officer for Duke, in a statement. “We support their decision as we have supported the decisions of all of Duke’s student athletes during this unprecedented period.
“Duke will maintain our current competition schedule for other sports and continue to adhere to our strict health and safety protocols, which include daily testing for all student athletes and based on the instructions of leading medical experts.”
The women’s basketball team has been on hiatus since December 16 due to two positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the program’s travel company. The Blue Devils (3-1) have postponed the games against Miami, NC State and UNC Wilmington. The team’s next scheduled competition was against Louisville on Thursday.
The Blue Devils are the first Power 5 team to be out after the start of this season. The Ivy League stopped winter sports in November before the start of the basketball season. Some other schools also chose not to play.
New coach Kara Lawson, who was hired in July, said this month: “I don’t think we should play now. That’s my take on that.” That came a day after Duke men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski questioned why college basketball was played in the middle of the pandemic.
“I just want the safety, mental and physical health of players and staff to assess where we are,” said the Hall of Fame coach after losing to Illinois on December 8th.
Krzyzewski cited the rise in COVID-19 cases as the basis of his argument.
“People say the next six weeks will be the worst,” said Krzyzewski at the time. “It’s pretty bad for me. On the other hand, these vaccines are coming out. By the end of the month there will be 20 million shots. By the end of January or February there will be another 100 million. Shouldn’t we re-evaluate that? See what would be best? “
The virus has already resulted in many games being canceled or postponed in the first month of the season. Countless teams have taken a break in their programs because of positive tests. The NCAA announced earlier this month that it plans to play its tournament in a single geographic area, with San Antonio being the first choice.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.