Coronavirus

Duke Out of A.C.C. Tournament Because of Coronavirus

Duke University’s men’s basketball team pulled out of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and ended its season on Thursday because of issues related to the coronavirus.

The Blue Devils, seeded 10th, were scheduled to play Florida State University, the No. 2 seed, on Thursday evening in Greensboro, N.C. But in a statement on Thursday morning, A.C.C. and university officials said the game had been called off because of a positive test inside Duke’s basketball program.

Kevin White, Duke’s athletic director, said that one player had tested positive for the virus and that other members of the team had been ordered to quarantine.

“Since last March when the pandemic started, we have listened to our medical experts and always put safety at the forefront of any determinations regarding competition,” said White, who noted that Duke had not recorded a positive test from the team until after Wednesday’s victory over Louisville. “As a result, this will end our 2020-21 season.”

Although Duke (13-11) has struggled this season, the announcement made final that the university will miss the N.C.A.A. Division I men’s basketball tournament for the first time since 1995. (The 2020 tournament was canceled a year ago this week because of the pandemic.)

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s coach, said the team was disappointed.

“This season was a challenge for every team across the country and as we have seen over and over, this global pandemic is very cruel and is not yet over,” he said in a statement. “As many safeguards as we implemented, no one is immune to this terrible virus.”

Duke’s athletic department has not been united in its approach playing during the pandemic. In December, the university’s women’s basketball team ended its season after just four games because of safety concerns connected to the virus.

The men’s team pressed on, though. Before Thursday’s announcement, the team had seen three of its planned games postponed or canceled because of virus issues in other programs, including two after the women’s team’s announcement.

Now the abrupt exit by Duke, which has won five national championships and is among the nation’s renowned programs, will assuredly provoke new skepticism of the N.C.A.A.’s plan to bring 68 teams to Indiana for the national tournament, which is scheduled to begin next week.

N.C.A.A. officials have outlined a detailed plan of safety measures, including daily testing for players and coaches, but some public health experts have been sharply critical of the decision to hold the tournament, particularly with fans welcome to attend.

Duke’s departure from the A.C.C. tournament came the morning after the Blue Devils defeated Louisville, 70-56. A day earlier, Duke routed Boston College, 86-51.

Florida State automatically advanced to the tournament’s semifinals and will meet the winner of the North Carolina-Virginia Tech game that will be played on Thursday night.

In a statement on Thursday, Louisville said it did not expect any of its players to be swept up in contact tracing protocols, in part because of digital tracking devices that players wear during games.

“Our group is tested daily and on a path to have the requisite consecutive days of negative tests to be able to compete” in the N.C.A.A. tournament, Louisville said.

Adam Zagoria contributed reporting.

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