COVID-19 issue in Colorado Hoops program causes KU-CU game to be canceled in Boulder

Boulder, Colorado – Tuesday’s Kansas men’s basketball game against Colorado at the CU Events Center was called off less than two hours before the announcement due to positive COVID-19 testing as part of the Colorado program.

Fans were turned away from the arena before being allowed in around the same time Colorado announced on its social media platforms that the game had been canceled. A statement from Kansas Athletics said the two programs “have agreed” to cancel the game.

“Our top priority since the start of the pandemic has been the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and the community,” CU athletic director Rick George said in a statement Tuesday evening. “Although we are disappointed for our student – the athletes and fans have to cancel the game, both schools agreed it was the best decision.

Photo by Matt Tait

A Colorado fan sits outside the CU Events Center in Boulder, Colorado, trying to figure out what to do with her tickets after the KU-CU game was canceled on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

Kansas coach Bill Self told reporters at the KU team hotel in Boulder that none of the Jayhawks were positive on Tuesday and that he was disappointed but not devastated that the game was called off . Likewise, said Self, Colorado coach Tad Boyle, who told Self throughout Tuesday that he still hopes to play.

“Tad said, ‘Bill, if we have seven and they say we can play, we want to play,” Self said Tuesday night. “But it’s not an important game in the grand scheme of things. In fact, I totally agree with the decision that was made. It was their doctors, our doctors, everyone.

Initially, this was only one positive test within the CU program. But after the rest of the CU team were tested, more positive test results surfaced, leading to the cancellation.

Self said both programs decided earlier Tuesday that they plan to “go as long as possible”, to try and see if the game can still be played. That meant a 5.45pm dropout timeout before a last call was required. CU’s additional positive test results had arrived before that time and the game was called off just after 5 p.m. MT before KU left the hotel for the arena.

Self said he first heard the official word from associate athletic director Sean Lester and noted that Boyle was trying to call while Lester and Self were talking.

According to a statement released by Kansas Athletics, there are no plans to reschedule the game. But Self hasn’t ruled out the possibility that KU will add another game to their schedule somewhere down the road to make up for the lost opportunity on Tuesday night.

Self also noted that it wasn’t the first time that a varsity sporting event had been canceled this season, and he predicted it wouldn’t be the last time either.

“It’s going to ruin your conference season,” he said. “I just hope that doesn’t mess things up where it takes away the fans and what makes college basketball so great. Anyone can face a weeklong break. I don’t know how it will be (with) reduced capacities and if we start doing everything that we did last year because of what is going on.

According to Self, the Jayhawks were unable to get out of town on Tuesday night and were scheduled to stay in Boulder overnight and return home to Kansas on Wednesday. Everyone except senior forward Mitch Lightfoot was due to return to Lawrence with the team and then they would all go their separate ways for the holidays from there before returning to campus on December 26. Lightfoot returns home with his family from Colorado to Phoenix.

Based on Tuesday’s practice and what he’s seen from his squad since last Saturday’s close victory over Stephen F. Austin, Self said the Jayhawks (9-1) were anxious to come back on the ground.

“We were ready to play today,” he said. “As bad as we played on Saturday, and as revealing as the movie was to all of the guys, you could tell they couldn’t wait to go and play.”

The Jayhawks are now expected to be out until December 29, when they are expected to host Harvard in the last game before the Big 12 conference begins on January 1.

Self said the Jayhawks will continue to take all possible precautions in the meantime, and he has touted the positive impact of vaccines to help keep the COVID-19 virus under control.

“Even though the disease is serious, I think the statistics show that those who have been vaccinated are much less of a risk than those who have not,” Self said. “We’re going to try to be as careful as possible and probably put in place protocols that look like last year, but hopefully it doesn’t look like last year.

“The (omicron) variant is going to spread like wildfire. We are all going to have it. The good news is that if you are vaccinated and boosted, the symptoms of the infection are very mild compared to those who are not. At least our team is vaccinated and largely boosted. I do not know what to do. One positive point shouldn’t stop you. But in this situation, several positives and there are symptoms… more importantly (the players) are going home (for the holidays) and there are some individuals who can be compromised a bit from the point of view of the immune system; it wasn’t that important to play this game.

Self also said that KU recently decided to cancel its annual vacation clinic, scheduled for next Monday, “for this exact reason.”

“We had 500 (children) enrolled,” he said. “And if you put athletes around 500 kids, there’s probably a chance that someone in the group has COVID. And then one of our guys figured it out and you might have to miss some guys or games. “