Tennessee basketball reports positive COVID-19 test after players return to campus

Mike Wilson
Knoxville News Sentinel

The Tennessee basketball team reported a positive COVID-19 test after players returned to campus starting Monday and went through a two-part testing process.

"After testing several domestic members of our men’s and women’s basketball teams, one male student-athlete tested positive for COVID-19," Tennessee sports information director Tom Satkowiak said in a statement. "With a plan already in place, our Sports Medicine staff immediately activated isolation and contact-tracing protocol in collaboration with the Knox County Health Department. We are encouraged by this affirmation that our procedures work." 

The athlete was not identified.

All Tennessee men's basketball players have returned to campus except forward Uros Plavsic and guard Santiago Vescovi. Plavsic went home to Serbia and Vescovi to Uruguay after concerns over the spread of the coronavirus pandemic halted the college basketball season on March 12.

Tennessee's plan to welcome athletes back to Knoxville included two COVID-19 tests: a nasal swab to diagnose anyone with an active infection and an antibody blood test to diagnose any athlete with a prior infection.

The positive test for the Tennessee basketball team is the first known positive case of COVID-19 among UT athletes who have returned to campus.

The majority of the football team returned starting June 8 and did not have any positive tests among the players, Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt said Thursday on Zoom. A football graduate assistant tested positive.

Tennessee outlined a plan for bringing athletes back to campus on June 3, including the process for a positive test.

"If a test is positive, the student-athlete will be isolated and treated as outlined by CDC guidelines," Tennessee's plan stated. "Isolation will either occur in his/her dorm as directed by University Housing or in off-campus housing as directed by the athletic department. Frequent follow-up of the student-athlete will be done by the sports medicine staff. In addition, other individuals who are determined to be close contacts of the infected student-athlete will also be isolated and monitored for symptoms of COVID-19."

UT is requiring athletes to wear masks in all facilities and will provide cloth masks that will be laundered by the equipment staff. Masks will not be required during cardiovascular training. 

Tennessee adjusted training tables and weightlifting stations to provide a buffer of at least 6 feet. It also has hand sanitizer available and is cleaning facilities daily. Workouts will take place in smaller groups, and locker rooms remain closed.

Non-football fall athletes are expected to return to campus in early July.

UT has reserved some on-campus housing for those who test positive for COVID-19. Any staff member or student who tests positive has to fill out a self-isolation form and will be contacted to learn more about their health situation, where they have been on campus and with whom they have come into close contact.

"If needed, close contacts of the self-isolating person will be notified directly by either the Knox County Health Department or campus personnel trained to assist in contact tracing," UT's COVID-19 response website states.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.