Baylor began restricting team activities Tuesday after coach Kim Mulkey tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. Additional COVID-19 testing will determine the length of the program's restricted activity.
It was one of the most anticipated matchups of the season, pitting the 11-time NCAA champion Huskies against the three-time champ Lady Bears. UConn coach Geno Auriemma also had a chance to tie the late Tennessee coach Pat Summitt with 1,098 victories with a victory at Baylor.
Mulkey missed Saturday's 74-50 victory at TCU because of COVID-19 contact tracing. Baylor said she tested negative three times leading up to the TCU game but decided to remain in quarantine. When she returned to team activities Monday, which included a COVID-19 test, her results were positive.
She will now isolate for 10 more days. If she shows no symptoms, she will return to team activities Jan. 15.
Mulkey said in a statement that she was exposed to COVID-19 on Dec. 25 by a family member who tested positive.
"While I am disappointed and hate to be away from the program, Baylor women's basketball is in good hands with our coaches and support staff," Mulkey said. "The safety of our student-athletes is paramount and will take precedent over any basketball activity during this pandemic."
The Big 12 now has three of its 10 women's programs paused: Baylor, Kansas State and Kansas. Because of COVID-19 protocol, the Wildcats and Jayhawks cannot meet roster thresholds to play.
Kansas State went on pause Dec. 30 with games against Oklahoma and West Virginia postponed. Now added are postponements of Sunday's game vs. Baylor and a Jan. 14 game vs. TCU. Kansas previously had games against West Virginia and Iowa State postponed; added to that is Saturday's game against Oklahoma State.
UConn still has scheduled nonconference games at Tennessee on Jan. 21 and at home against No. 5 South Carolina on Feb. 8.
Auriemma, speaking in a Zoom conference call Tuesday afternoon, said he doesn't know whether there is any chance to reschedule a matchup with Baylor or with another premier nonconference foe, No. 2 Louisville. The Huskies and Cardinals were to play Dec. 4, but the game was postponed because UConn was then on a COVID-19 pause.
UConn and Louisville have looked into various options since to reschedule, but none have worked out so far. Auriemma said he's committed to being flexible and is open to rescheduling games, even if there is little preparation time.
"I don't think anything is on for sure. And I don't think anything is off for sure, the way things have been evolving," Auriemma said. "A month ago, I might not have said this. I may have said, 'Look, I just don't think we're going to do anything rash.'
"But now, seeing how many games get canceled over and over and over again ... if there's a slim possibility that you could play a game, the way I'm thinking today, I would take it, no matter what I had to go through to get to that game."
Auriemma, whose team's start to the season was delayed by COVID-19 protocol, also said that because the virus has hit so many programs, there is no reason to point fingers at anyone.
"The minute you start to think, 'What's wrong with these people?' that could be you tomorrow making a phone call to another school saying, 'Hey, look, we can't come,'" Auriemma said. "As much as we all like think all of us are doing what's best, in this particular case, there's no guarantee. All you can do is the best you can do, and keep your fingers crossed."
Auriemma also said that the cancellation of several marquee nonconference matchups nationwide might push the NCAA tournament selection committee to have to consider teams' reputations even more than usual when making a bracket.
"You know the movie 'Casablanca' ... where they go, 'Round up the usual suspects?'" Auriemma said. "I think that's what's gonna happen. When it all breaks down, just round up the usual suspects."