UF basketball team returns to practice after following COVID-19 protocol

Graham Hall
UF basketball writer

The Gators men’s basketball team returned to the practice facility Friday, a little over a week after one UF player and one UF assistant coach tested positive for COVID-19. 

Florida pulled out of both of its Bubbleville match-ups with UMass Lowell and Virginia due to the positive test, delaying the start of the 2020-21 season in the process, but the program determined not to quarantine any of the remaining 14 scholarship players due to the Southeastern Conference’s partnership with Kinexon SafeZone tracking devices for contact tracing, said UF spokesperson Denver Parler. 

Florida only began wearing the contact tracking devices in the week prior to the positive test results after the SEC partnered with Kinexon on Nov. 17 to wear the lightweight devices it calls “SafeTags.”

Although the decision to resume prior to the initial one-week shutdown doesn’t adhere to the SEC medical group’s recommendation that Tier 1 individuals in high-risk athletics consider quarantining for 14 days upon exposure to COVID-19, the NCAA ultimately leaves the decision to quarantine up to a joint determination between collegiate athletic programs and local public health officials. 

According to the NCAA’s official guidelines pertaining to considerations after a positive COVID-19 test result, “athletic departments and schools should consider establishing a relationship with the applicable local and state public health officials and, in particular, explaining the COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies in place.” 

The NCAA further notes athletics programs are “in a unique position to begin contact tracing protocols immediately, with firsthand information regarding potential close contact individuals.” 

Which is what Florida did in this instance — the program began contact tracing immediately thanks to the implementation of Kinexon’s contact tracing devices. 

While the program will be without an unnamed player and an assistant coach for an undetermined period, the Gators are optimistic a Dec. 2 road trip to Oklahoma remains feasible at this moment – although the Sooners are dealing with an ongoing COVID-19 situation as well. 

The Gators still expect to open the home slate Dec. 6 against Stetson.