Geno Auriemma defends Kim Mulkey's comments about not wanting COVID-19 tests at the Final Four

Ryan Young
·2-min read

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey made some shocking comments after the Bears’ loss in the Elite Eight at the NCAA women’s basketball tournament on Monday night, suggesting she thought the tournament should stop testing for COVID-19 at the Final Four.

On Wednesday — two days after Geno Auriemma and UConn had knocked off Baylor at the Alamodome in San Antonio to reach their 13th straight Final Four — Auriemma defended Mulkey’s comments.

Though seemingly out of the blue, Auriemma said that there were “some facts behind what she was saying.”

Auriemma: Mukley’s comments didn’t ‘come out of nowhere’

Mulkey, unprompted, went off on a tangent during her postgame news conference about coronavirus testing.

“You know, I want to say this to all of ya," she said. "I don't think my words matter, but, after the games today and tomorrow, there's four teams left, I think, on the men's side and the women's side. They need to dump the COVID testing.

"Wouldn’t it be a shame to keep COVID testing, and then you got kids [testing] positive or something, and they don't get to play in the Final Four? So you need to just forget the COVID tests and let the four teams that are playing in each Final Four go battle it out.”

Both the men’s and women’s tournaments are being held in bubble-like locations in an effort to hold them safely amid the coronavirus pandemic — which, despite massive vaccine rollouts, is still ongoing and cases are actually on the rise throughout the country.

The daily testing at each tournament is in place to stop any spread of the virus throughout a team, opposing teams and others involved. One team – the VCU men’s program — was forced to forefit its first round game because of positive tests.

The NCAA, per USA Today, will continue to test everyone through the end of each tournament.

Though her comments certainly shocked plenty, that apparently wasn’t quite what she was trying to say.

“It’s unfortunate that it came out the way that it did,” Auriemma said Wednesday, via USA Today.

Auriemma said that there were actually discussions with the NCAA and medical staff that suggested players and those still inside the bubble by this point were better protected from the virus.

“[There] 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 — was remote,” he said, via USA Today.

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