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Baylor women's head coach Kim Mulkey calls for the NCAA to stop COVID testing ahead of the Final Four. Could this be the "madness" in March Madness?

Why does Baylor coach Kim Mulkey want the NCAA to stop testing for COVID?

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said on Monday night that the NCAA should “dump” its existing COVID-19 testing policies ahead of both the men’s & women’s Final Four. “I don’t think my words matter, but after the games today and tomorrow, there’s four teams left I think on the men’s side and the women’s side,” she said. “They need to dump the COVID testing.” 

She continued: “Wouldn’t it be a shame to keep COVID testing and then you got kids that end up having tested positive or something, and they don’t get to play in the Final Four? So you need to just forget the COVID tests and let the four teams that are playing in each Final Four go battle it out.” 

Well that’s certainly not controversial, right? Kim Mulkey, whose Baylor team was eliminated last night against juggernaut program UConn, albeit due to a controversial no-call, was the recipient of nationwide sympathy because of her team’s incredible play and storybook run to the Elite Eight. Why did she have to ruin it? Her take requesting that the NCAA be done with COVID-testing is a bit extreme, to say the very least. 

What is March Madness?

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament entails sixty-eight teams on the men’s side and sixty-four for the women’s, all competing in a single-game-elimination style format. The tournament takes place during March & April, where top contenders duke no pun intended it out to see who’s the best college basketball team. 

The men’s & women’s tournaments, after much deliberation, ultimately found it best to cancel the 2020 tournaments, ruining brackets and breaking hearts in the process. Now, after a year of information regarding the virus as well as observing the success of the NBA “bubble” last summer, the NCAA was finally able to form a plan to revive this iconic tournament in a safe environment for both the men & women competing. 

2021 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments 

Most of the 2021 March Madness men’s tournament were played in Indianapolis, with some games taking place in Bloomington & West Lafayette. Venues that were expected to host these games are Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, and Indiana Farmers Coliseum. 

A significant number of teams stayed at hotels directly connected to the Indiana Convention Center, which also had the means to be set up as a practice facility. The Final Four is expected to take place on April 3rd & 5th at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts.

As for the women, the entire tournament would be played in the state of Texas, with most games, including this week’s Final Four games, being played in San Antonio. Previous games were also held in Austin and San Marcos. 

COVID finds a way

Earlier this month, an NCAA men’s game between VCU & Oregon resulted in a no-contest due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests on the side of VCU, in which the NCAA had to declare Oregon as the default winner, ultimately moving them forward to the second round. Mind you, this is with the mandatory testing and social distancing mandates in place. 

While there’s certainly an argument to be made pertaining to the unfairness of Oregon moving on without actually competing, it’s clear that the health & safety of these players, coaches, and staff are more important than an even playing field for a basketball game. In fact, Kim Mulkey had similar sentiments midway through the regular season as she recovered from the virus. 

“The answer is this: The season will continue on. It’s called the almighty dollar,” she told reporters in January. “The NCAA has to have the almighty dollar from the men’s tournament. The almighty dollar is more important than the health and welfare of me, the players, or anybody else.” Clearly, Kim Mulkey has had a change of opinions now that her Baylor team has been eliminated.

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