Men’s and women’s basketball conference play is in full swing, but the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to disrupt the season.
Men’s basketball has rescheduled two games so far due to COVID-19 issues, and women’s basketball has been forced to play multiple games shorthanded, leaving the future of the teams’ success this season in flux. The Atlantic 10 petitioned the NCAA earlier this month to allow redshirt players limited participation without jeopardizing a full year of eligibility to help combat COVID-19 roster shortages, a move that could help GW remedy its shortages throughout the remainder of the season.
Current NCAA rules prohibit players from redshirting after they have played in a game, but A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade is asking that players designated for redshirt be able to play in up to four games in emergency scenarios while maintaining their extra year of eligibility, The Athletic reported earlier this month.
The waiver would apply to all NCAA Division I college men’s and women’s basketball players, although it would only apply for this season.
The proposal was submitted on Jan. 4 with the hope that it would be instituted immediately. But the NCAA requested clarification on a few points, and it was part of the agenda for the men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees, which met on Jan. 18 at the NCAA Convention.
The results of the meeting are yet to be released.
The NCAA currently applies similar rules to the college basketball proposal in college football. In football, players are allowed to compete in up to four games out of the 12-game schedule and still qualify for a redshirt season, per an NCAA rule change in 2018. College basketball teams typically play roughly 30 games in a season.
College basketball teams have dealt with a surge in COVID-19 cases thanks to the Omicron variant, and both the GW men’s and women’s basketball teams have been affected.
The men’s team had a 26-day pause in December due to cases within the program, missing games against Maryland Eastern Shore, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s and Duquesne. The Saint Joseph’s and Duquesne games were rescheduled for Jan. 19 and Feb. 16, respectively.
The team will work to reschedule their match with Maryland Eastern Shore at a further date while the conference is in charge of rescheduling the game against the Bonnies and is still looking for a suitable date to reschedule.
As of Saturday, freshman guard Laziz Talipov is the only player on the men’s team who would qualify for a redshirt under current rules, as he is yet to play in a game this season.
If the temporary rule change is approved, freshman forwards Tyler Warner and Daniel Nixon, junior forward Miles Gally and senior guard Theofanis Stamoulis would be eligible for a redshirt season. Warner, Gally and Nixon have played four games, and Stamoulis has played two games.
The women’s team has struggled with COVID-19 throughout the season and has been forced to play multiple games shorthanded. They were missing redshirt junior forward Mayowa Taiwo, freshman forward Sophie Haydon and freshman guard Leila Patel for their games against Lehigh (70-57 loss) Dec. 21 and West Chester (64-31 win) Dec. 28.
GW also suffered a 73-42 loss to Rhode Island on Jan. 12, when they were missing graduate student guards Kyara Frames and Sierra Bell, graduate student forward Ty Moore, junior guards Nya Lok and Essence Brown and junior forward Faith Blethen, all of whom have been important contributors this year.
The team dropped its fourth straight conference game to Massachusetts 68-41 Saturday in the absence of Moore as well. Assistant coach Adam Call was also missing for the victory over West Chester, while the team was without Head Coach Caroline McCombs for their 66-63 loss to Richmond Jan. 5.
The women’s squad has had three games postponed due to COVID-19 cases so far this season. Their game against Saint Louis, scheduled for Jan. 2, was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Billikens program.
Their games against Dayton and Saint Bonaventure, scheduled for Jan. 8 and Jan. 15, respectively, were postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Colonials program.
No one on the women’s team would be eligible for a redshirt this season under the current rules, since everyone on the roster has played in at least one game.
If the temporary rule change was implemented, freshman guard Leila Patel and sophomore guard Piper Macke would be eligible for a redshirt season. So far this season, Patel has played one game and Macke has played two games.
The women’s team will look to earn its first conference win of the season at home against Davidson Wednesday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.