Cowgirl basketball cancels season opener due to COVID-19

Oklahoma State women’s basketball and head coach Jim Littell announced Monday that the program was pausing in-person activities due to three student-athletes testing positive with COVID-19. Due to the announcement coming nine days before the season was due to start, the Cowgirls have also canceled their season opener at Little Rock.

STILLWATER — The first known pause of athletic activities has occurred at Oklahoma State with the women’s basketball program announcing the stop of in-person activities due to COVID-19.

According to a release from Oklahoma State athletics, three student-athletes within the program have tested positive for COVID. Due to the pause, the team has also canceled its season opener scheduled for Nov. 25  which was to be played at Little Rock.

Per the release, none of the athletes who tested positive have reported severe symptoms and none have been hospitalized.

“We’ll get through this,” coach Jim Littell said in the release. “Our first priority is creating a safe environment for the people in our program. If that means we need to alter our schedule, then that’s what we’ll do.

“We won’t set an exact date for a return to team activities because of the uncertain nature of the virus. Our focus is to make sure that everyone is well taken care of and to do our part to minimize the spread. We’ll figure out the rest later.”

The team will meet virtually while activities – which also includes strength and conditioning sessions – are on hold.

According to the release, routine testing for OSU student-athletes who are not in their competition season is conducted weekly – which right now, only football is in season. Any athlete who tests positive must go into isolation, per the university’s protocols.

Following the that period of isolation, each athlete will undergo cardiac screening, which was a protocol put in place by the Big 12 Conference – the first conference in the country to include such a protocol with the pandemic – before returning to team activities.

There is no certainty as to whether or not any of the teammates, coaches or support staff have had to go into quarantine via contact tracing. It is protocol if contact tracing identifies potential for those in contact of those who have tested positive to be placed in quarantine.

The Oklahoma State football team most publicly was the first Cowboy athletic program impacted by the procedures around the pandemic.

Star linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga made international news when he was one of the first college athletes to make public his positive testing for COVID-19 – which led to isolation that was even captured by the ESPN+ documentary “Our Time” that is following the Cowboy football program.

It was also discovered after the season opener for football, after which true freshman quarterback Shane Illingworth came off the bench late in the third quarter to propel the Pokes to a win over Tulsa, that Illingworth had missed two weeks of practice prior to the game due to contact tracing.

Oklahoma State athletics tweeted out its updated COVID-19 numbers Monday evening, which they have been doing each week. In the latest numbers, there are 25 active cases with all of them being for sports currently out of a season – with no football active cases. To date, OSU athletics has reported 158 cumulative cases in all sports dating back to June 1. 

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