Tennessee basketball: COVID halts activities, Barnes tests positive

The coronavirus pandemic halted Tennessee basketball Volunteers activities.

Just as the same week of the season-opener hit, Tennessee basketball has had to halt team activities. The program revealed Monday that multiple people in a variety of roles had positive COVID-19 test results.

One of those to test positive was head coach Rick Barnes, and he has begun quarantining. The tests were reportedly conducted Sunday and involved players, coaches, managers and support staff, or “Tier 1 personnel” as the university described it.

These positive tests arrived two days before Tennessee basketball was set to host the Volunteer Classic at Thompson-Boling Arena. That included facing the Charlotte 49ers on Wednesday and the VCU Rams on Saturday.

Initially, no decision had been made on what to do with those games, according to an announcement by the program on Twitter. However, UTSports announced later that day that both games had been canceled, meaning the Vols’ opener would be in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 2 against the No. 1 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Barnes’ positive test comes three days after athletic director Phillip Fulmer revealed that he had tested positive just as Tennessee football was set to visit the Auburn Tigers. It’s unclear just how much this has all affected the program.

Of course, such issues have been mentioned as a reason for the football program’s struggles, even if there are numerous other problems to worry about. You have to question just how much this has affected men’s basketball as a whole. Barnes spoke on The Nation Sunday about preparing for the season amidst these issues, and it clearly hadn’t been easy.

Pausing activities due to the pandemic was not unique to Tennessee basketball on Monday. Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported on Twitter dozens of other programs that had already paused activities. The Florida Gators, Ole Miss Rebels, Duke Blue Devils, Syracuse Orange and Baylor Bears were all among them.