January 19, 2021 

Vanderbilt becomes the first SEC school to cancel the season

Players elect to stop play due to COVID-19

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The fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has reached the SEC.

The Vanderbilt women’s basketball program on Monday announced that it has elected not to continue the remainder of the 2020-21 season “due to a combination of COVID-19 related circumstances, opt-outs, and injuries.”

The announcement makes Vandy the first SEC school to cancel its season, but not the first women’s basketball program. On Christmas Day, 2020, the Duke women’s basketball program canceled the remainder of its season “due to health and safety concerns stemming from COVID-19.”

Vanderbilt finishes the 2020-21 season 4-4 overall and 0-3 against SEC opponents. Like Duke, the decision came directly from the players.

“We fully support and respect the decision of our student-athletes. Their health, safety, and well-being have always been, and will continue to be, a top priority,” said Candice Lee, Vanderbilt’s Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director in a prepared statement. “We know that this was a tough call for them, in a year full of tough calls, and a disappointing outcome for the student-athletes and the program.”

Head Coach Stephanie White echoed the support of the players.

“As a staff, we have and will always prioritize the health and safety of our student-athletes,” she said. “We are coaching a group of young women who have been resilient in dealing with opt-outs, injuries, COVID-19 protocols as well as the physical, mental and emotional toll that comes with COVID-19. We respect our student-athletes’ decision and support them as we continue to move forward.”

Several SEC women’s basketball programs have had to cancel games this season due to COVID-19 including Ole Miss and Tennessee. 

Due to the situation, all games against Vanderbilt will be marked as no contests and have no bearing on final SEC standings.

Written by Dorothy Gentry

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