No. 21 Missouri State pulled out of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on Saturday after a positive COVID-19 test was found in Bradley's program the night before.
The two teams were scheduled to meet in the semifinals, but the Lady Bears decided to opt out and head home just before tip-off, not risking the chance of potentially getting infected. They are expected to make the NCAA Tournament when the field is announced Monday.
The conference had a specific set of rules it came up with before the tournament began about what would happen if a team were to opt out or be unable to play because of positive COVID-19 tests.
“We had policy guidelines on tournament re-seeding by the athletic administrators,” Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner Doug Elgin said in a phone interview Saturday. “After Friday's game if one team is unavailable the highest remaining seed advances, and we reshuffled the deck.”
Drake, which was the No. 2 seed, was given a bye to the finals and will play the winner of the Bradley-Loyola, Chicago game on Sunday.
The Bulldogs also had a positive coronavirus test in their program.
“As we did all year, we contact traced,” Elgin said. “Both institutions had enough available players to play the game. It takes eight scholarship players to play and we had that. We took all the necessary steps with stringent safety protocols in our handling of COVID and contact tracing.”
Every conference team has been testing daily and these were the first positive results found. Subsequent contact tracing revealed that both Bradley and Drake had enough players to still safely play.
The local health department also factored in with the decision to let the teams keep playing. The Northern Iowa men's basketball team was bounced from the MVC Tournament when it had a player test positive in St. Louis on Thursday night.
The conference said decisions relating to the safe navigation of tournament play are ultimately made by the City of St. Louis board of health, which includes implementation of contact tracing guidelines outlined by the CDC and the City of St. Louis. Utilizing the city's guidelines, "contact tracing revealed that UNI did not have enough available players to compete,” the conference said.
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