CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University's men's and women's basketball seasons are now on pause due to COVID-19 within their respective programs, the university announced this week.
University officials confirmed Tuesday evening that its men's basketball program had to pause activities after a positive test of a Tier 1 individual within the program. According to the NCAA, Tier 1 "consists of student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists, medical staff, equipment staff and officials."
Less than 24 hours later, it confirmed on Wednesday that "multiple positive COVID-19 tests," Tier 1 individuals, were discovered within the women's basketball program.
The Thunderbirds' men's basketball team was scheduled to travel to Montana State for games on Thursday and Saturday. The women's team was scheduled to host Montana State on those same days. All four games were canceled as a result of the positive tests and will not be rescheduled.
"Obviously, our main concern right now is taking care of the individuals that tested positive," Athletic Director Debbie Corum said Wednesday, in a prepared statement. "Our top priority is that these student-athletes receive the proper care."
The SUU men's basketball team is off to one of its best starts in program history. The team is 7-1 after dropping its first game of the season in a nailbiter to Loyola Marymount University on Nov. 25. The Thunderbirds also swept a pair of games against Big Sky powerhouse Montana to begin Big Sky Conference play. This week, they entered the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 at No. 24.
The women's team, which had to pause activities once already this season due to COVID-19, is 3-2 with its first four Big Sky games canceled.
The Big Sky, which also includes Weber State, altered the season schedule to limit travel this season. All teams play games against other conference schools back-to-back in the same location instead of alternating home and road contests throughout the period of the regular season.
University officials said they hope both programs will be ready to play scheduled games against the University of Idaho beginning on Jan. 7.