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Cuonzo Martin tests positive for COVID two days out from SEC opener

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Mizzou Links for December 28, 2021.

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COVID-19 catches up with Mizzou Hoops

A rough season for Mizzou Hoops got a little rougher on Monday.

Just two days before opening their conference slate against No. 18 Kentucky in Lexington, Mizzou Head Coach Cuonzo Martin announced he won’t be traveling with the team after testing positive for COVID-19 over the Christmas break.

Before we say anything, we have to give our best wishes to Coach for a speedy recovery. Thankfully, it’s on record that Martin has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, so he should be good to go in short order (though the virus does affect everyone differently, vaccinated and unvaccinated.)

It’s a major blow to a team that has struggled across the board during the 2021 season. Martin is already in a tenuous place during his fifth year as the Tiger head coach, and a potentially extended leave of absence from the team certainly doesn’t increase the chances that things improve at any point soon. The school has announced that assistant Cornell Mann will take over head coaching duties in the interim, and he’s due to speak with media on Tuesday. Our beat writers will be there.

Even if more coaches and players come down with positive tests, the game on Wednesday seems likely to go on as scheduled. The SEC’s new policies require games to be played if teams can even put a bare bones roster together.

Under the SEC’s newly revised cancellation policies, men’s and women’s teams will be required to play games if they have at least seven scholarship players and one countable coaching staff member available. Otherwise, the league will reschedule the game or declare a no-contest.

“As we have done since the onset of the pandemic, we continue to evaluate our policies and procedures related to COVID-19 based on the most current information,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “Circumstances have clearly changed since our interrupted game policy was implemented in August, and this updated approach is intended to support healthy, fair and equitable competition.”

Seems less than ideal for the competitive integrity of the sport, but these are the days we’re living in. Even the skeleton of a real game needs to go forward to avoid the cascading effects one delay would cause.

Of course, we’re still not sure how the rules may change in the coming days and weeks. The CDC announced yesterday that it’s recommending shorter quarantine and isolation periods for positive results and close contacts, and the ACC has already passed new policies that go along with these recommendations. It doesn’t seem far-fetched to assume the SEC could follow suit, which would mean that cases like Martin’s would only range over the course of five days rather than nearly two weeks. In fact, it seems likely if you believe Pat Forde.


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