Larry Krystkowiak tested positive for COVID-19, Runnin’ Utes Friday opener canceled after virus hits program

Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak reacts to a call in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game against Colorado Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Add Larry Krystkowiak to the list of college basketball coaches that have contracted COVID-19.

At the top of his weekly ESPN700 radio show Monday evening, the University of Utah head coach revealed his positive test, which he says came back on Nov. 17. He has been quarantining since in an apartment that sits above his garage, which is where he conducted the radio show from.

Krystkowiak will come out of quarantine on Friday morning, which means he is operating under a 10-day isolation period from the time of the positive test.

“I got a text from (Utah director of athletic training) Trevor (Jameson) that my test had come back positive,” Krystkowiak told Bill Riley, who revealed his own battle with COVID-19 in September during the show’s opening segment. “We’d had some of our team and some other staff members, it’s hit us pretty good, so yeah, we’re all in isolation.”

Krystkowiak’s positive test coincides with a COVID-19 outbreak his program has been dealing with since Nov. 13. On that day, in the middle of the Utah-UCLA football cancellation, Utes athletic director Mark Harlan revealed that multiple antigen tests came back positive for the men’s basketball program. PCR testing was conducted that day to back up the antigen positives, but the results were never made public.

Based on the timeline, it appears the Utes have not practiced fully since at least Nov. 12. Late Friday night, CBS Sports reported that Utah was shutting down men’s basketball activities “for the foreseeable future due to multiple COVID positives in the program.”

A full program shutdown does not appear to have ever taken place, but multiple sources told The Salt Lake Tribune Monday that the number of positives inside the men’s basketball program at one point was “at least nine,” and given Krystkowiak’s status, the number of positives has not been limited to players.

Utah worked out on Monday with associate head coach Tommy Connor at the helm, per Krystkowiak said, who noted, “all but one were there today.”

Under NCAA guidelines, the college sports governing body is suggesting, but not mandating, a 14-day program shutdown for even one positive test. On Krystkowiak’s Nov. 16 radio show, he said his guys were going through individual workouts. During Monday’s show, he indicated workouts were still going on at some level.

Krystkowiak did not offer any firm numbers of positive cases, but at one point, he did say that he has five players living in one house, three in another, and that “the lion’s share of those guys got it, and they probably got it at home.”

An hour before Krystkowiak’s radio show began, Utah announced its season-opening matchup against the University of New Orleans on Friday night, which was first reported Nov. 16 by The Salt Lake Tribune, has been canceled. The Pioneers are scheduled to play at BYU on Thanksgiving night, which is what helped facilitate the game in Salt Lake City in the first place.

“The Runnin’ Utes will not be playing New Orleans as reported after consulting with the team medical staff,” an athletic department statement read. “The decision to not play was made to keep the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaches and support staff at the forefront for both teams.”

The Utes will instead open the season Dec. 3 vs. Washington in what will be the Pac-12 opener for both schools. Previously-scheduled home games vs. Idaho State Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 vs. Utah Valley remain in place, as does a trip to Provo to take on BYU on Dec. 12.

New on the schedule as of late Monday afternoon is a visit from Idaho on Dec. 18 to complete the nonconference schedule. Utah will also travel to Arizona State on Dec. 22 as part of the Pac-12 schedule, which is moving to 20 games for the first time this winter.

According to Krystkowiak, the decision to cancel the New Orleans game was made on Monday morning.

“The thought of playing on Friday was just too daunting, and we made a decision this morning that wasn’t in our best interest,” Krystkowiak said. “There’s a huge part of me that just wanted to play, and I’d be coming out of quarantine on Friday morning, and that day, having a game, that’s a little daunting to think about. At the same time, I wanted to do it for our guys.”