UVU new head basketball coach Mark Madsen takes a phone call on the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah, Sunday April 14, 2019. (August Miller, UVU Marketing)

August Miller, UVU Marketing, File

UVU's opener with Stanford canceled due to COVID-19. Could BYU game be next?

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - Nov. 24, 2020 at 11:47 a.m.



OREM — Mark Madsen's Stanford homecoming will have to wait.

Utah Valley's men's basketball opener to the 2020-21 season against Stanford has been canceled as a result of a positive case of COVID-19 and ensuing contact tracing within the Wolverines' basketball program, the two programs announced jointly Tuesday morning.

The Cardinal's statement says the decision was made after a positive COVID-19 test was identified within the Wolverines' program, and as a result of contact tracing, as established by Western Athletic Conference protocols. Per Pac-12 policy, the game will be declared a no contest.

Both programs are "exploring alternative options" to replace the game.

The Wolverines are also scheduled to play at crosstown rival BYU on Saturday evening, but obvious questions surround that game, as well. The Cougars are scheduled to open the season Wednesday against Division II Westminster, followed by a contest one night later against New Orleans — whose game Friday against the University of Utah was just canceled after Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak tested positive and the program was briefly shuttered due to a rise in positive cases.

Madsen told reporters last week that the Wolverines had been on quarantine four or five times due to positive cases and contact tracing during the offseason, but felt confident that most of those issues were behind them as they had returned to a string of consecutive days and weeks of practice. That brewed plenty of excitement for the game at Stanford, not just because it was the season opener but because Madsen starred for the Cardinal from 1996-2000 before being selected in the first round of the NBA Draft (No. 29 overall) by the Los Angeles Lakers.

"We're going to play a really good Pac-12 team, and with it being Madsen's former school and all that, it's really sweet. They have a really good squad, and they're very well-rounded as a team," UVU center Fardaws Aimaq, a Mercer transfer who sat out last season as a redshirt due to NCAA transfer rules, said last week.

"It's a big test for us. We're going to be thrown right into the fire, and we've got to come back and play BYU up the road just three days later."

That test was hung up Tuesday. Will another one follow?

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Sean Walker

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