Anyone planning their Thanksgiving around watching some University of Massachusetts basketball online will now have to make other plans for their holiday

The university announced late Tuesday afternoon that the men’s basketball team paused all team activities following a positive COVID-19 test result among what is described as the program’s “Tier 1” personnel. That group includes coaches, support staff, student-athletes and team managers.

With the positive test, UMass has withdrawn from playing in Bubbleville at Mohegan Sun Casino and Arena in Connecticut over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The release from the school said that results were found during regular COVID-19 surveillance testing. The testing is conducted three times a week in accordance with NCAA requirements.

Because of the positive test, the men’s basketball team is following what the release says is state, local and University public health guidelines to insure the health and safety of the team members, the UMass and town of Amherst communities.

During Atlantic 10 Conference media day activities last week, UMass coach Matt McCall was asked about what his team was doing in trying to keep the coronavirus out of the Champions Center.

”I think we’re on test No. 28 that we just took the other day. That’ll ramp up as we get closer to game time to three times a week,” McCall said at the time. “Those are really the main protocols. They want you wearing a mask anytime you’re outside of the building, walking to your car.”

UMass had been scheduled to play Siena on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26. The Minutemen also had games against Delaware on Nov. 27, Iona on Nov. 29 and South Florida on Dec. 1. Three of the four schools had previously paused their basketball activities.

The first team to pause was Iona, reporting a positive test on Nov. 12.

”Since coming together in August, we’ve carefully followed protocols and have been part of a strong testing program. With this being our first positive case, this serves as an important reminder for everyone to exercise the necessary precautions to help stop the spread of this virus,” said Iona head coach Rick Pitino in a release at the time. “The health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and community are our utmost priority. We will continue to make decisions out of an abundance of caution, as we look forward to resuming activities as soon as return-to-play guidelines deem it safe.”

Siena announced its positive test on Nov. 13, while Delaware’s positive test announcement came shortly before Noon on Tuesday.

UMass reportedly had another game lined up in Bubbleville, and was set to play Liberty on Nov. 29. That game will also not be played.

As of right now, the UMass non-conference schedule is on hold but should be released in the coming days. The Minutemen are still scheduled to open Atlantic 10 Conference play on Dec. 9 in Philadelphia against La Salle. The conference home opener will be Dec. 30 against George Mason, which is coached by former Williams College player and coach Dave Paulsen.

Howard Herman can be reached at or 413-496-6253.

On Twitter: @howardherman


Howard Herman is a sports columnist at The Berkshire Eagle. The dean of full-time sportswriters in Western Mass., he has been with the Eagle since 1988, and is a member of the New England Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame.