San Jose State officials acknowledged Tuesday for the first time that members of the football team’s traveling party for last week’s Arizona Bowl are isolating in Tucson because of coronavirus protocols.
Some athletic department staff members have stayed in Arizona to provide support, SJSU spokesperson Kenneth Mashinchi wrote Tuesday afternoon in an email to the Bay Area News Group.
The rest of San Jose State’s traveling group returned home after the team’s 34-13 loss to Ball State on Dec. 31, which spoiled an undefeated season for the Mountain West champions. The Spartans took the field without at least six players — five of whom were starters — and two assistant coaches, but never clarified why they missed the game.
San Jose State’s comments came in response to questions from the Bay Area News Group after the news organization obtained a campus memo alerting the SJSU community that more than one person who tested positive for coronavirus visited the school’s athletic facilities the day the football team flew to Arizona for its bowl game.
“The Arizona Health Officer and Offerpad Arizona Bowl medical director and medical team were involved in SJSU’s review of testing and close contact identification,” Mashinchi wrote. “The Arizona Health Officer approved of SJSU’s participation in the bowl game, and both parties expressed their appreciation for SJSU’s comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan and track record. Ball State was notified.”
Mashinchi said San Jose State has notified Santa Clara County health officials “in a timely manner regarding positive COVID-19 cases for the campus community since the beginning of the pandemic.”
San Jose State took two chartered planes from San Jose to Tucson to provide more space for social distancing and lowered density for the flights, Mashinchi added.
The school declined to say if any of those who tested positive were part of the football program or any other program at the school, citing HIPAA privacy rules.
Shortly before kickoff, the SJSU radio broadcast identified several players unavailable for the Arizona Bowl, including defensive lineman Cade Hall — the Mountain West’s defensive player of the year — and star receiver Bailey Gaither.
Offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven and defensive coordinator Derrick Odum also were not available.
Unbeaten before it took the field, SJSU fell 27 points behind in the first quarter and lost 34-13.