The Wolverine

February 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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FEBRUARY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 9 B ig Ten foes couldn't slow Michigan's bas- ketball teams (both men's and women's), but COVID concerns have. All Michi- gan athletics, in fact, were shut down Jan. 23 in accor- dance with a recommenda- tion from the state health department due to the dis- covery of a variant of the virus within several linked to the athletic department. U-M's Big Ten-leading men's basketball team (8-1 in conference play as of Jan. 25) could miss basketball games at Penn State, versus Indiana, at Northwestern and versus Michigan State as a result. There's been no word as to whether or not those games will be made up if missed. "Under a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) decision made Saturday (Jan. 23), the University of Michigan athletic department will immedi- ately pause athletic activities in all sports, including games, team and individual training sessions, until further notice and up to 14 days," the university confirmed in a release. "While U-M has worked diligently on testing and re- porting within state and Big Ten Conference guidelines, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is mandating a more aggressive strategy for this B.1.1.7 variant, which exceeds current program efforts designed around the standard form of the virus. "… The B.1.1.7 variant is thought to be approximately 50 percent more transmissible than the standard form of the virus, leading to faster spread of the virus, potentially increased numbers of cases, and additional hospitaliza- tions and deaths." In addition to all athletic activities being paused, all U-M athletic facilities were closed to "strengthen public health intervention." Student-athletes, coaches and team staff were required to immediately isolate/quarantine ef- fective Jan. 23 until further notice and up to 14 days. No determination had been made on how the pause may impact scheduled games beyond Feb. 7. There was also the possibility that activities could resume before that date, per reports. "Canceling competitions is never something we want to do," director of athletics Warde Manuel said. "But with so many unknowns about this variant of CO- VID-19, we must do every- thing we can to minimize the spread among student- athletes, coaches, staff, and to the student-athletes at other schools." University public health officials were working closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department and Michigan Department of Human Health Services on additional mitigation strategies to address the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant in the university community, the release noted. "The university will be carefully considering additional mitigation measures. There are many unknowns that re- main under investigation by U-M, local and state public health officials," it said. There were 22 COVID-19 positive results for student- athletes between Jan. 16 and Jan. 22 per data released by the athletic department Jan. 22. They tested 2,240 athletes, coaches and staff members during that span. The basketball teams weren't the only ones affected. Men's ice hockey, indoor track and field, wrestling, men's and women's gymnastics, men's and women's swimming and diving, women's volleyball, and men's and women's cross country were competing. The softball, baseball, soccer and lacrosse teams are on campus training, and football is in the process of winter conditioning. The women's tennis team had to cancel a match against South Carolina Jan. 24, The Detroit News reported, and was busing back to Ann Arbor, since it is not permitted to fly while under quarantine. The paper also reported the Pepperdine men's tennis team had flown from Southern California to play a match at Michigan Jan. 24, but that was also canceled, while the cross country squads had to decline participating in the Big Ten Championships in Indiana next week. That will likely eliminate the teams from qualifying for the NCAA Championships. — Chris Balas Inside Michigan ATHLETICS U-M Athletics Put On Pause Due To COVID Concerns U-M immediately paused athletic activities in all sports — including games, and team and individual training sessions — on Jan. 23, a shut down that could last up to 14 days. PHOTO BY JEANETTE BLANKENSHIP

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