Sunday afternoon, Kendall Rogers at D1 Baseball released an article describing the timeline of events for State at the CWS. Specifically, the situations in testing that lead to their removal. Between the NCAA and NC State sources, he spent “a total of two and a half hours” crosschecking everything. It was a great insight into what happened, but left a ginormous question…Players repeatedly tested negative but still couldn’t play?
NCAA tests unvaccinated players the day before each game, which ultimately comes out to about every other day. The protocol is “simple”.
A player/coach/travel party member will take an antigen test, which has a higher false positive/negative rate than a more conclusive PCR test. If that person tests positive on an antigen test, the NCAA sends that person to take a more confirmatory PCR test. If that PCR test is positive as well, they are not cleared, and the individual then enters what the NCAA dubs ‘blue protocol’. Blue protocol means they are not clear to participate, and they immediately go into isolation, and thus contact tracing begins.
In short…There is a quick test, that if positive, leads to a more in-depth/accurate test. Players need to obviously pass both.
It should be also noted, that if officials deem that there could be an outbreak amongst a team, all players/staff/travel party could be forced to test. That’ll come into effect shortly…
Issues from the Beginning
State had all negatives when they arrived in Omaha and when testing was done Sunday, before Game 1 versus Vanderbilt. But, Avent announced in the postgame conference (after beating Vandy 1-0) that a few folks had a “bug.” In hindsight, probably not the best to bring something like that up, regardless if you think a player(s) may have cold or flu, because shortly after…
The NCAA said they found out later Monday that one of the players who had the ‘bug’ had a roommate removed at some point on Sunday, which created some concern inside the NCAA.
So because of it seeming a little weird State is adjusting rooms and announcing players are sick…NCAA decided to test again.
The player that Avent said had a ‘bug’ on Monday, June 21, tested positive in an antigen and PCR test on Tuesday, which deemed him ‘not clear to participate’, and thus was directed to isolate. The roommate of the individual, who was in direct contact, was then directed to quarantine, according to the NCAA. The NCAA later found out that the first individual was symptomatic prior to Monday’s game, which Avent alluded to in his press conference. Avent did not know at the time it was COVID-19, however, just to make that perfectly clear. Avent, assistant coach Chris Hart and others also were tested, and were COVID-19 negative, NC State sources told D1Baseball.
This would lineup with the rumors we were hearing that Jarrett was positive and the roommate (Justice) was in direct contact and moved.
Between Tuesday and Friday, June 25, NC State attempted to have the roommate of the first individual tested each day to potentially test out and be able to pitch. That request was not granted; though, the individual wound up testing positive later in the week anyway.
Symptoms right off the plane, first positive test by Tuesday. State is officially under the microscope of the NCAA.
The individual who was in close contact with the COVID positive player was tested in hopes that he would test negative and could come out of quarantine ‘sooner, and perhaps be able to play’. However, that player tested positive for COVID-19. He was then deemed out of action. The same morning, NC State discovered two more players had shown symptoms consistent with COVID-19, so were proactive and sent them over to the Marriott for further testing. Those results arrived 90 minutes before the Vanderbilt game — both members of the traveling party were positive for COVID-19.
Here is where things start to spiral. In an effort to possibly get back a player, State pushes hard for retests and sure enough, it’s positive. Then State officials are good folks and say that two more players aren’t feeling a 100%, and they too are positive. If State would have just let it go, would we still be playing now or at least been close to full squad for Friday’s game? Probably. Did State do the right thing morally but trying to seek clarity with potential positive cases? Yes.
Now that State has four cases, the Championship Medical committee is alarmed. Four members of the team (at this point all unvaccinated) have tested positive.
The NCAA informed NC State that unvaccinated players would be removed from the game and only vaccinated players could play in the game. The NCAA gave NC State the option to either forfeit and try to play Saturday or play on with a limited roster. NC State sources say they proposed to the NCAA to play a doubleheader between the two teams on Saturday instead. That request was denied.
The BIG Question
This is where all the anger and confusion of this whole mess hits hardest. Four players are positive and the NCAA has forced State to play a game with only vaccinated players. In a further attempt to clear more players, State goes through yet another round of testing of all unvaccinated players.
At the start of the game, unvaccinated members of the Pack team were taken to the Marriott and tested. All of those unvaccinated members of the team were negative for COVID-19, including several prominent players on the roster. None of those players were able to return to the ballpark in time to enter the game.
This is HUGE. It’s been confirmed by Reid Johnston’s family and others, that State players tested negative SIX TIMES in Omaha and yet were unable to play. Could the game not have been moved back an hour more? Could the NCAA not have figured out a way to say “13 vaccinated and the XX number of players that continue to test negative can play.”? We are holding player back simply because they didn’t have the time TO WALK BACK TO THE BALLPARK?!?
Further Positive Tests and Kicked Out
With NC State having four positive COVID-19 tests, the team reached ‘outbreak’ status, which then caused the NCAA to get all members of the team tested — including the vaccinated members who played in the Friday game against Vandy. Shortly after that point, the results began to trickle in for each player — four players, all vaccinated — had tested positive for COVID-19, with all other players testing negative.
So here we hit the low point of the weekend. State has four vaccinated and four unvaccinated players that have tested positive. Within hours (at 1am in the freaking morning) NCAA committee decides to shut it all down. There was obvious fear that this would continue. The NCAA had to be questioning “Well what happens if 20 guys play tomorrow and they win? What happens that by Tuesday they are back down to 13 guys?” They panicked and State paid the price.
You most certainly could make the argument that negative tests mean you should be able to play. You also could make the argument that whether State at 27, 20 or 12 players, they still would have gone for it.
Instead, State heads back to Raleigh and the entire nation is now Miss State fans.
-Avent was torn apart for his statements after the Pack 13 game about vaccinations. Well Avent was vaccinated, thus the stuff about him being the cause of this all is over.
-There has yet to be any proof that Vandy called for retesting. Furthermore, the entire team (although all vaccinated) were tested and all were ‘everyone was cleared and able to play on Monday’ (according to ESPN’s Kris Budden as reported by The Tennessean) . That said, were they being a little sporting wanting to play knowing State was down to 13 but could have gained more back with time, sure.
In the end, we understand the process now, but we still have questions on the decisions.