Utah men’s basketball positive COVID-19 test came back as false positive

Initial test forced the postponement of Tuesday’s Pac-12 game at Arizona State. It will be rescheduled.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak as Utah hosts Washington, NCAA basketball in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.

COVID-19 antigen testing has proven to be less than 100% accurate. Just ask the University of Utah men’s basketball program.

Multiple sources told The Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday that a positive test within the men’s basketball program, announced by the athletic department Sunday and the crux of why Tuesday night’s game at Arizona State was postponed, has come back as a false positive.

An athletic department spokesperson told The Tribune they have not been notified of a false positive within the men’s hoops program.

Utah spent the fall conducting daily-antigen and weekly PCR COVID tests on football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball players. Positive antigen tests have been backed up with PCR COVID tests. After the football program began dealing with a virus outbreak last month, it went to daily PCR testing.

Given Tuesday’s postponement, the one positive Utah test involved a Tier 1 individual. The NCAA defines Tier 1 individuals as “student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists, medical staff, equipment staff and officials.” Multiple sources told The Tribune that the positive test belonged to a player, which Utah did not clarify on Sunday when it announced the positive. Furthermore, the ensuing contact tracing knocked the Utes below the required minimum of seven scholarship players necessary to play a Pac-12 game.

In mid-November, the men’s basketball program dealt with a program-wide virus outbreak that affected “at least nine” members of the program, in addition to Larry Krystkowiak. Two days before Utah’s Dec. 3 opener vs. Washington, the Utah head coach indicated that two-thirds of his roster has already contracted COVID-19.

At the time, Krystkowiak noted that any player that has tested positive does not have to test again for 90 days. Right behind that, an athletic department spokesman confirmed that a student athlete who tests positive does not have to test again for 90 days.

With Tuesday’s game vs. the Sun Devils postponed, Utah will have 13 days between Dec. 18′s blowout win over the University of Idaho and the Pac-12′s Southern California swing, Dec. 31 at UCLA and Jan. 2 at USC.