The Wisconsin Badgers announced on Wednesday morning that they were pausing all team activities for a minimum of seven days due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the team. This also means that this coming Saturday’s game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers is cancelled.
On Wednesday afternoon, head coach Paul Chryst, who tested positive for COVID-19 along with five other coaches and six players, and athletic director Barry Alvarez spoke with the media and answered their questions about the virus, the upcoming schedule and what new protocols will be put in place to keep the athletes and staff safe.
“This morning I received the news that I had tested positive via a PCR test I took yesterday,” Chryst said via a statement from UW. “I informed my staff and the team this morning and am currently isolating at home. I had not been experiencing any symptoms and feel good as of this morning.
Here are the highlights of the Zoom press conference:
Athletic director Barry Alvarez was first up and he discussed what was, probably, the most interesting fact of the whole press conference: Alvarez and UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank made the decision to cancel the game.
"The game was cancelled, it got to the point where it was orange/red, but let's look at the timeline...We had 1 positive test on Wednesday prior to the game, since the game we had 12 positive tests." - Barry Alavrez AD— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 28, 2020
Alvarez said that they were in the orange/red section which notes “team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).”
Basically, they saw the direction things were headed and wanted to try and get out in front of it as much as they could. They “consider(ed the) viability of continuing with scheduled competition” and did not find it viable. Based on there still being outstanding tests and the state of Wisconsin being a national COVID hotspot, this seems like a fair conclusion to make.
It sounds like Alvarez says that this (COVID outbreak) was in the range where he and the chancellor, Rebecca Blank, made the decision to cancel the game so that they can "get our arms around this."— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 28, 2020
Here are some other highlights from Alvarez’s availability:
- The players who are currently quarantined are doing so in individual hotel rooms.
- Alvarez told Nebraska AD Bill Moos this morning about the game being cancelled. Said he was understanding and disappointed. They were scheduled to have dinner on Friday night.
"We were very excited about the fact that we could play. Personally, I think we are a very good football team."— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 28, 2020
Alvarez said he is disappointed and frustrated that the team can't get back out on the field.
"Our No.1 concern is the safety of our athletes." he adds.
- Alvarez mentioned a number of times that the No. 1 concern was the health and safety of the players.
- He also noted that no decisions have been made about playing the Purdue game next weekend.
Barry Alvarez said he and deputy AD Chris McIntosh both were tested for COVID-19 today and will get their results tomorrow. Administrators tested last week and were negative.— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) October 28, 2020
Head coach Paul Chryst was up next, coming to us live from...somewhere in his house as he is already quarantining. He started off by saying “physically, I feel good,” which is excellent to hear. Chryst then went on to discuss how there are always things that he, and the team, could have done better to help prevent something like this from happening.
Chryst says he needed to do a better job of wearing his mask and had been using a face shield in practice earlier this week. He thinks that there are always ways he, and the team, could be better.— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 28, 2020
Paul Chryst: "This is one part of this virus that it gets you in a number of different ways. You are absolutely always going to look at can we be better and what can you do."— Karley Marotta (@Karley_Marotta) October 28, 2020
Adds that he doesn't know if it was one super spreader or how it started etc.
Of course since all college football coaches have at least one screw loose, Chryst was talking about what he and the team could do to make sure they were potentially ready to take on Purdue next weekend.
"We've got to make use of this pause," Chryst says talking about potentially being ready to play Purdue on a short practice week next week.— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 28, 2020
If you go by the 10-day mandatory quarantine that coaches are under, Chryst and five other coaches wouldn’t be able to be back at practice until next Friday, one day before they’re supposed to play Purdue, afternoon at the earliest.
Chryst says he tested positive on Tuesday afternoon. Antigen test came back negative. PCR test was positive— Ryan Wing (@RyanWingFOX11) October 28, 2020
It is interesting that Chryst said he wasn’t sure about how the canceled game against Nebraska would be counted. I’m sure the section of Nebraska fans that think “Wisconsin is scared to plays us” will handle this with the utmost tact and incisive thinking we’ve come to expect.
Based on my, admittedly limited, understanding of the protocol, it looks like any game canceled for any COVID-related reasons is a "no-contest."— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 28, 2020
“I don’t know what I’m really supposed to be able to share,” Chryst doing his best, in a difficult spot, to answer our questions about how people are feeling and who is sick. Lastly, much like Alvarez, Chryst said that the most important factor in all of this was the health and safety of his players.