The first self-initiated COVID-19 postponement occurred at South Main this week. Through the ups and downs, Rice Athletics is battling COVID-19 well.
Rice Athletics issued its first self-initiated COVID-19 postponement on Tuesday afternoon. The Owls were forced to defer a set of Rice women’s basketball games originally scheduled for this weekend “due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program and related contact tracing”.
That postponement represents the first time Rice has had to back out of an athletic contest since the Owls kicked off their 2020-2021 athletic year on Oct. 24, 2020 against Middle Tennessee, 87 days prior.
Rice has been on the opposite end of those dour phone calls on numerous occasions. Rice has three football games postponed by COVID-19 tests and contact tracing by their opponents this fall. The women’s basketball team lost games against UT Arlington and Texas Southern. The men’s basketball team missed out on the marquee non-conference game: the Bayou Bucket against Houston.
Altogether Rice has played 30 games (not counting six postponements) over the last three months without being the offending party. That streak ends on Friday.
The Rice women’s basketball team was thin on numbers before COVID-19 had any impact this week. The Owls played seven out of a maximum of 15 allowable scholarship players in their most recent contest, a road win against Old Dominion. The team found ways to keep winning, but simply did not have the bodies to afford to lose any more players. Even still, they lead Conference USA with a 10-1 (6-0) record.
The way Rice Athletics has handled COVID-19 hasn’t been perfect. But through rigorous contact tracing and safety protocols, the Owls have made it longer than most every college program in the nation before bowing out of any games. They’ve given their athletes their best chance to compete.
Volleyball, soccer and baseball will all begin soon. Cases continue to climb in the Houston area. The degree of difficulty will only rise from here. But so far, it’s been (relatively) smooth sailing at South Main. Here’s hoping they can keep it up.