The Houston Cougars men’s basketball team is battling Covid-19, like every team in America. But what separates UH is that according to head coach Kelvin Sampson, at some point this season all 15 players have caught the coronavirus.
Sampson explained the team — which hasn’t played a game since Dec. 5 — has been practicing with just six players the past couple days. He expects two or three other players to be cleared in time for Sunday’s game, giving Houston eight or nine players for the contest. The remaining players on the team haven’t been cleared to return yet.
When asked how many members of the team have actually tested positive for COVID-19, Sampson said, “All 15 players.” Sampson also said some of the coaches have tested positive for the virus.
Sampson and his son — assistant coach Kellen Sampson — missed the team’s Dec. 5 game against South Carolina due to COVID-19 concerns. The university did not reveal whether they were held out due to positive tests, or because they came into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Two days after that game, Houston stopped all basketball activities to get the virus under control.
The long-term effects of having that many players under care is unknown, but we’ll find out how it effects the No. 6 team in America as the season continues. Sampson didn’t discuss which specific players will be available.
This isn’t the first time UH has had Covid problems, as they were one of the first FBS schools to return to football but chose to do so without mass testing of all players. Instead only symptomatic players and staff were tested. It led to immediate problems and the shutting down of the program again shortly thereafter.
The Coogs are 4-0 this year, and last played on December 5th in a 77-67 win against the South Carolina Gamecocks. They’re scheduled to begin American Conference play next Tuesday at home against the Temple Owls.