The Kansas basketball team withdrew from the Big 12 Tournament on Friday after it had a player test positive for COVID-19. The Jayhawks were scheduled to play Texas on Friday night in the league's semifinals, and now because of the withdrawal, the Longhorns will advance to face the winner of Oklahoma State and Baylor in the Big 12 tournament championship game on Saturday. CBS Sports' Matt Norlander was first to report the news of Kansas being forced to exit the Big 12 tournament on Friday.
"Obviously we are disappointed and our players are disappointed that they can't continue to compete for the Big 12 championship," head coach Bill Self said in a statement. "While we have been fortunate to avoid this throughout the season, there are daily risks with this virus that everybody participating is trying to avoid. We have followed the daily testing and additional protocols that have been setup for us, unfortunately we caught a bad break at the wrong time. I look forward to preparing my team in probably a unique way for next week's NCAA Tournament."
It is unclear who the player is that tested positive, but a source told Norlander that it was someone who played in KU's Thursday night tilt against Oklahoma. Only seven Jayhawks players saw action in Thursday night's win, in part because they had already been dealing with COVID issues entering the week. Starting center David McCormack and reserve Tristan Enaruna were ruled out of the Big 12 tournament ahead of the team's departure for Kansas City, as both were placed in health and safety protocols.
Self said before the Big 12 tournament that he expects both will be available for the NCAA Tournament, but this is a new wrinkle that could throw a wrench into the availability of other KU players for next week's NCAA Tournament given contact tracing and quarantining measures that will be conducted. Per NCAA protocols, playing in the Big Dance requires seven consecutive days of negative test results among Tier 1 personnel before arrival in Indianapolis, meaning testing has already begun.
KU's sudden withdrawal from the tournament because of a COVID positive test marks a concerning theme for major conference teams in recent days across the country. On Thursday, Duke had to withdraw from the ACC Tournament -- and thus ended its season -- after a player who did not play the night before tested positive. On Friday, Virginia had to do the same because a player who participated in the team's game Thursday tested positive.