| USA TODAY
The Duke women’s basketball team is ending its 2020-21 season after just four games, as a result of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the school announced Friday evening.
The news was first reported by The Associated Press.
“The student-athletes on the Duke women’s basketball team have made the difficult decision to conclude their current season due to safety concerns,” said Michael Schoenfeld, Vice President for Public Affairs & Government Relations and Chief Communications Officer for Duke University.
“We support their decision, as we have supported the choices made by all student-athletes at Duke during this unprecedented time. Duke will maintain our current schedule of competition in other sports and will continue to observe our rigorous health and safety protocols, which include daily testing for all student-athletes and are based on guidance from leading medical experts.”
The men’s basketball team, coached by Mike Krzyzewski, is expected to continue its 2020-21 season despite taking the last two weeks of the non-conference season off to allow players to return home to their families.
The women’s team, led by first-year coach Kara Lawson, has had a pause on its activities since Dec. 16 after two positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the Blue Devils’ traveling party. Duke had started 3-1 and postponed games against Miami, North Carolina State and UNC Wilmington. The team’s next scheduled contest was against Louisville on Thursday.
The Duke women’s basketball program is the first of any power five school to opt out of finishing its season after having started it. The Ivy League decided not to play any winter sports back in November. Several other smaller schools have opted out of the season, but they were not in NCAA tournament contention like the Blue Devils.
Lawson was hired back in July and had previously stated, “I don’t think we should be playing right now. That’s my opinion on it.”
The virus has already caused many games to be canceled or postponed in the first month of the season. Countless teams have been on pause because of positives tests in their programs. The NCAA said earlier this month that it planned to play its Division I women’s tournament in a single geographical area with San Antonio being the top choice.
Contributing: The Associated Press