'There's no playbook for it': CMU men's basketball, wrestling detail coronavirus issues

In this CM Life file photo, an empty McGuirk Arena sits after a CMU volleyball match on Jan. 29.

Central Michigan's athletic teams had not dealt with significant COVID-19 issues the entire school year. 

Through the football season, more than two months into the basketball season and around a month into the wrestling season, there were no serious issues warranting a shutdown.

However, the virus caught up to CMU in late-January. 

In all, two wrestling meets, including a tri at home, were canceled and a men's basketball game at Buffalo was postponed due to coronavirus-issues with the respective CMU programs. 

Here are details of the COVID-19 issues within the Chippewa wrestling and men's basketball programs: 


The Chippewa wrestling team was set to compete in a Jan. 23 quad at Clarion. However, the Chippewas did not make the trip due to a COVID-issue within the program. The team announced on Jan. 22 in a statement it would not make the trip, the first event all school year affected by COVID-19. 

Just three days later, on Jan. 25, the team announced the cancellation of a triangular between CMU, Ohio and George Mason, set for Jan. 31, in McGuirk Arena. 

When reached for input, the Mid-American Conference directed Central Michigan Life to the CMU Athletics statement, which read:

"Central Michigan Athletics is cancelling the wrestling tri-meet schedule for Sunday, Jan. 31, with Ohio and George Mason due to a COVID-related issue within the CMU program." 

Wrestling head coach Tom Borrelli said the issue was not an outbreak of positive tests, rather, it was an issue due to contact tracing. 

"We've had very minimal positive tests," Borrelli said. " ... In our sport, you work out with someone and a lot of student-athletes share the same apartments, ride to practice or school and back. You might have one guy test positive and that takes out seven to 10 guys."

After the two-week shutdown, the Chippewas are set to travel to Cleveland, Ohio to face Cleveland State on Feb. 5 before competing in a tri-meet at Buffalo against the Bulls and Edinboro on Feb. 7 to end the regular season. 

As of publication, when the tri at Buffalo wraps up, CMU will have to wait until Feb. 27-28 to participate in the MAC Championships in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. 

Borrelli said rescheduling another meet in McGuirk Arena before the end of the regular season is not completely out, but it is difficult because there are several variables to contend with. 

"Variables of facilities at other places because of other sports going on," Borrelli said. "Most places are more hectic now because of the fall sports being pushed back to the spring. Those are the things -- can you get the facilities? Can you get the officials? Can you make the travel work?"

Men's basketball

CMU's men's basketball team was inside an hour of tipping off its Jan. 26 game at Buffalo before a positive test for COVID shut the game down. 

A release was sent from the MAC at 4:33 p.m. stating the game would be postponed to a to-be-determined date. The game was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. in Buffalo's Alumni Arena.

The release said that CMU is experiencing roster issues related to positive COVID-19 tests and subsequent contact tracing. 

CMU coach Keno Davis said after the Feb. 2 game against Ohio that he learned of the positive test at Buffalo roughly an hour before tipoff.

"Most of the players were out on the court and had gotten a good warmup," Davis said. "What you try to do as a coach during these times -- there's no playbook for it -- there's nothing to learn from someone in the past."

After the Buffalo game was postponed on Jan. 26, the Chippewas were able to travel to Kent State on Jan. 29. As of Feb. 5, no other games have been postponed or canceled. 

Davis was not able to comment on the specifics of the Buffalo postponement due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). 

As of now, the Chippewas and Bulls are set to play Feb. 12 in McGuirk Arena, and the makeup game has not yet been scheduled. CMU will next face off against Western Michigan at home on Feb. 6.

In terms of big-picture, Davis added that CMU and the team itself will do what is needed to keep everyone -- especially players and fellow students -- safe amid the pandemic. 

"When it comes to a tough decision of playing a game or not playing a game, if it's a close decision, we're not playing," Davis said. " ... The health and welfare of our student-athletes -- all of our students -- is the most important thing. 

"We're going to try and keep them as safe as possible."