UConn coach Geno Auriemma defends Baylor’s Kim Mulkey for controversial COVID test comments

Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey created an uproar Monday night when she suggested doing away with COVID-19 testing at the Final Four. However, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, whose Huskies defeated the Lady Bears in their Elite Eight matchup, said Wednesday, "There were some facts behind what she was saying." 

After the game, Mulkey questioned how a player's positive test could impact her participation in and possibly the outcome of a Final Four game. 

"So you need to just forget the COVID test and let the four teams that are playing in each Final Four go battle it out,” she said.

Though her words received nearly universal criticism, Mulkey's comments didn't "come out of nowhere with no context," Auriemma said Wednesday.

Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma chats with Baylor coach Kim Mulkey before their teams faced off in the Elite Eight on Monday. (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

What she was referencing, Auriemma said, "was an extension of a conversation that we had on a Zoom call with the NCAA medical staff, who said to us coaches that after the Sweet 16, having been in the bubble for this amount of time — and having been tested every day — the chances that someone would test positive between Monday or Tuesday and Friday, Saturday, Sunday — to use their words — were remote."

An NCAA spokesman said the tests will continue until the end of the tournament Sunday.

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The women's NCAA Tournament has been using a different COVID-19 test for players and team members than the one the men's tournament uses. That has also been a subject of criticism the NCAA has received regarding the difference in amenities for the men's and women's tourneys.

The daily antigen tests the women receive have a quick turnaround time, but the Food and Drug Administration concedes they "have a higher chance of missing an active infection" than the PCR test the men get.

"There have been false positives here," Auriemma said. "So is there a chance that that could happen between now and (the national semifinals on) Friday, and some player or some team can't play? I guess there's always a chance of that. There's nothing 100 percent."

Auriemma said he and Mulkey discussed COVID-19 testing issues before their teams met on Monday. With that in mind, he said, Mulkey's postgame comments didn't "come out of nowhere with no context …

"It's unfortunate that it came out the way that it did."

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