Just hours after the release of the first AP College Basketball Poll of the season, the Michigan State University and college basketball community received some startling news: Hall of Fame head basketball coach Tom Izzo has tested positive for COVID-19. Coach Izzo tested positive on Monday morning during the the Big Ten’s required daily antigen testing. The results were confirmed via a PCR test later in the day.
Update from Michigan State Men's Basketball - https://t.co/Vf7eA8PXwC pic.twitter.com/JzEoQsdh0L— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) November 9, 2020
Coach Izzo explained in a letter to the MSU community that he remains in good health with only mild symptoms. He stated that he had been diligent in following the guideline to prevent the spread of COVID, yet has contracted the virus nonetheless. Coach urged the MSU community to continue to listen to the advice of medical experts.
According to Big Ten guidelines, Coach Izzo must remain in isolation for 10 days following the onset of symptoms and will not be able to return in person until Nov. 17. Izzo expect to be able to review film and stay in touch with his team remotely. In Izzo’s absence, associate head coach Dwayne Stephens will take over primary coaching responsibilities. MSU also reported that no other members of the MSU basketball program have tested positive.
What Izzo had to say:
Shortly after the news announcement, Izzo joined a Zoom call with the media to discuss his positive test.
Tom Izzo meeting with media— Ryan O'Bleness (@ryanobleness) November 9, 2020
“I’ve been beating my brains out to figure out where and how (he contracted the virus)...let’s you know how serious the virus is.”
Izzo says he’s been really careful, and is an advocate of wearing a mask and social distancing.
“I found out this morning that I tested positive,” Izzo said. “I’ve been beating my brains out to figure out where and how (he contracted the virus). I think I’ve been as diligent as anybody, which just goes to show, it even tells you more how serious maybe the virus is. I know for a fact I wasn’t at any big parties, didn’t visit any frat houses or sororities. I’ve been just kind of sitting in my own house and going to work.
“As you know, we’ve been testing for quite a while now with the antigen testing, for over two weeks. (I) tested negative every test. I would say I’ve been an advocate of wearing our masks and practicing social distancing. I’m still an advocate of that. I don’t think that deters me in way, shape or form. I think we’ve gotta understand that it is serious, and it’s invisible.”
As Izzo mentioned, he still believes in the protocols, and taking the precautions. He will continue to abide by those protocols that were put in place.
“For the most part, I’ve stuck with the national CDC, I’ve stuck with our state stuff, I’ve stuck with our Big Ten and our university (protocols), and feel very comfortable in where I’m at,” Izzo said. “This isn’t to say that the protocols don’t work, either. I think it just says that sometimes, where I got it, I have no clue. Maybe I touched something, maybe I did something else, I just can’t figure it out — maybe I never will be able to, so it really doesn’t matter. But I would say to you: don’t let up for a second — especially those of you that have kids, or families, or even for yourself. You just gotta stick to the protocols and hope it works out.”
The timeline for Izzo went like this: He tested negative for the past two weeks, in which he said he “felt great.” This past Saturday Izzo felt a little bit of a cough, and maybe the chills. He took his temperature throughout the day and tested negative both Saturday and Sunday. He was working out throughout the weekend as well. Izzo said when he woke up today, it was the best he felt in the past couple days, but he tested positive this morning.
Izzo also mentioned he doesn’t have a sore throat, and that he is only coughing “a little bit.” Izzo will be away from the team for 10 days, but says “I’m going to do what I always do at school,” meaning he is going to stay connected with the team, watch film from home, try to stream the team’s practices and talk to his assistants.
As of now, no players or family members have tested positive.
Izzo says that so far, no players and none of his family members have tested positive. He adds that he “feels pretty good” right now.— Ryan O'Bleness (@ryanobleness) November 9, 2020
“Right now, no players, no family have tested positive,” Izzo said. “Hopefully it will remain that way and I’ll be the only weak link in this group. Don’t feel bad for me, I’m sure there’s still days ahead that I gotta deal with, but right now I feel pretty good.
Izzo also says that he thinks the team is in good hands with Dwayne Stephens running the practices, and with his captains (Josh Langford, Aaron Henry and Foster Loyer) leading the team. Izzo also joked that Stephens will put the “press and zone” defense in while he’s away.
“This is the time when you find out if your leadership is good,” Izzo said. “And I think it’s gonna be. I think they’ll do a great job with me out. Hell, they probably won’t want me to come back.”
Izzo’s main message was for everybody to do what they can do to stay safe:
“For a guy that I think is brought up on toughness, it doesn’t bother me to wear a mask,” Izzo said. “If I gotta wear an apron or anything else, I’m cool with it. I just wanna stay safe, and I want everybody else to stay safe. Do what you can do to give you the best chance.”