‘You just have to make more awareness to this’: Tony Stubblefield open up on how DePaul is adjusting to Covid-19


Nate Burleyson

Tony Stubblefield looks on as DePaul faced Montevallo on Thursday in an exhibition game.

Ever since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, situations have evolved as new information comes out surrounding the virus.

The last month has seen a new variant — omicron — emerge, causing cases to skyrocket, hospitalizations to go back up to near 2020 levels and new protocols being put in place to try to combat the virus’ surge.

Sports leagues and organizations haven’t been immune to the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the last month, with the U.S. recording a pandemic-high 486,428 cases on Wednesday, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

College basketball has also faced a surge in cases in December, with multiple games getting canceled or postponed on a daily basis. DePaul was one of the schools who had to go on pause after receiving positive Covid-19 test results two weeks ago, forcing the Blue Demons to miss three games.

After a two-week pause, DePaul practiced for the first time on Tuesday before its game against Butler on Wednesday. The Blue Demons had a hard time finding any consistency in their 63-59 loss to the Bulldogs, dropping them to 9-2 overall and 0-1 in the Big East.

“You just have to make more awareness to this,” DePaul head coach Tony Stubblefield said regarding the growing Covid-19 cases in Chicago and the country.

Everyone at DePaul had to get fully vaccinated before the new school year began in September. Since then, however, people who have been vaccinated are also encouraged to get their booster shot to better protect themselves against the omicron variant.

Stubblefield said that some members of the team have already received their booster shot and the rest are also prepared to get the booster.

“We are just trying to do everything that we can to stay healthy to have a successful season, from that standpoint, and to be prepared to play games,” he said on Friday.

DePaul isn’t the only team in the Big East who has had to go on a Covid pause. Four other teams — St. John’s, Seton Hall, Georgetown and UConn — have received positive test results, forcing each program to postpone their conference games.

Last week, the Big East presidents agreed to revise its forfeit rule, allowing conference games to be rescheduled, if possible. In total, 11 Big East games have already been postponed because of Covid-19.

The CDC recently updated its quarantine guidelines if a person tests positive, reducing the isolation requirements from 10 days to five if a person’s symptoms are gone or getting better, but have to wear a mask for five more days when around other people.

The ACC quickly followed suit to update its quarantine protocols to match the CDC’s guidelines. UConn head coach Dan Hurley told reporters on Thursday that there has been some talk in the Big East of also going to a five-day rather than 10-day quarantine requirement for anyone who tests positive, but that depends on local authorities signing off on that.

“That’s way out of my ballpark, to be honest with you,” Stubblefield said when asked about the Big East possibly reducing its isolation requirements. “All I can worry about is our team, trying to coach our team and not trying to get into all those things. Whatever the rules are for us at DePaul, in our state, we will go with them. The most important thing is the safety and health of our guys.”