UMass basketball, hockey teams pause as COVID-19 risk level rise causes ban on campus gatherings

Due to a campus-wide surge in COVID-19 cases, UMass is shutting down its athletic programs for at least the next two weeks as the campus’ risk status was changed from elevated to high Sunday.

The UMass athletic teams that are playing this winter have been thriving despite the pandemic just over a month away from their respective conference tournaments. The men’s basketball team is coming off an energizing win over rival Rhode Island, Saturday. The hockey team is ranked No. 10 in the nation and the women’s basketball is in the midst of its best season in years. But they won’t play games or practice for at least 14 days as part of campus-wide public health measures.

Games and practices fall under gatherings, which are banned on campus when risk status is high.

According to UMass’ release:

“This new designation will go into effect at 2 p.m., Sunday, February 7 and be in place for a minimum of 14 days. It will only be lifted when public health conditions improve substantially.

The decision to raise the risk level, just two days after it was raised to “Elevated Risk,” was made in consultation with the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health. It comes after a further increase in the prevalence of positive cases reported among students since Thursday, Feb. 4. From Feb. 2-4, the campus recorded 298 positive tests, for a total of over 398 active cases as of Friday, Feb. 5.”

The UMass women’s basketball team is 10-5 (6-4 Atlantic 10). It’s games Friday and Sunday have already been postponed. They had three road games scheduled over the next 14 days. The Atlantic 10 Tournament begins March 3 in Richmond.

The men’s basketball team is 7-4 (6-2, A-10). They have four games scheduled over the next 14 days. The Atlantic 10 Tournament begins March 10 in Richmond.

The Atlantic 10 hasn’t officially announced how it plans to seed its tournaments that will feature teams who haven’t played the same number of games.

The hockey team is 11-5-3. It was scheduled to face Northeastern on Tuesday. Hockey East is only scheduling games a week in advance. Hockey East hasn’t announced dates or seeding plans for its tournament either.

The UMass men’s lacrosse program was scheduled to open its season Friday. Baseball is slated to begin on Feb. 27. No other spring programs have schedules listed for 2021 yet.

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