Utah women’s hoops intends to open Sunday at No. 10 Oregon following COVID-19 pause

In the wake of a COVID-19 pause early last week, the University of Utah women’s basketball team is back in the gym and intends to open its season this weekend.

The Ute women paused all basketball-related activity Nov. 23 due to a positive test, plus the ensuing contact-tracing protocols. An athletic department spokesperson told The Salt Lake Tribune that the team began practicing Monday, with the intention of opening its season vs. 17th-ranked Oregon State on Friday in Corvallis. The Utes were also scheduled to play at No. 10 Oregon on Sunday.

Later Monday, the athletic department announced that the Sunday game in Eugene will now act as the opener, with the game in Corvallis moving from Friday to next Tuesday. Practice will continue to move forward as planned.

The women’s basketball program stoppage cost the Utes their originally-scheduled opener vs. Southern Utah on Wednesday, plus a visit from Utah Valley on Saturday.

“We have been testing every day and have returned to practice to prepare to play games this week,” read an athletic department statement, which was provided to The Tribune. “We’ve been working closely with our leadership along with the Pac-12 and the state health officials to ensure that our student-athletes are in the safest environment possible.”

Oregon, for what it’s worth, had a trip to the University of Portland on Monday and a home game against Colorado on Friday before seeing the Utes on Sunday.

As was the case with a Utah men’s basketball COVID-19 stoppage earlier this month, the women’s stoppage has been categorized as a pause while more testing was conducted, and not a full-blown program shutdown.

The Utah men began fully practicing late last week and intend to open their season Thursday at the Huntsman Center vs. Washington (4 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). Their COVID-19 pause began when multiple antigen tests came back Nov. 13, but workouts continued on some level, including individually.

Multiple sources told The Tribune last week that the number of positives inside the men’s basketball program at one point was “at least nine,” which included head coach Larry Krystkowiak, who revealed on his weekly ESPN 700 radio show that he had tested positive. Krystkowiak was in quarantine until Friday.

It was unclear Monday how many members of the women’s basketball program were affected by contact-tracing protocols. It is also not clear if the entire roster was available for practice on Monday.

Under NCAA guidelines, the college sports governing body is suggesting, but not mandating a 14-day shutdown for one positive test involving a Tier 1 individual. Tier 1 includes players, coaches and other essential personnel.