Vanderbilt women’s basketball discontinues 2020-21 season

Vanderbilt women’s basketball has cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season due to health and safety concerns.

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Simon Gibbs, Sports Editor

Vanderbilt announced Monday that its women’s basketball program will not play the remainder of the 2020-21 season due to “a combination of COVID-19 related circumstances, opt outs and injuries,” according to a press release.

“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,” athletics director Candice Storey Lee said. “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.”

The Commodores’ roster has been depleted in recent weeks, as they had just seven active student-athletes for its last contest on Jan. 17, an 80-73 loss to No. 12 Kentucky. They stood at 4-4 (0-3 in SEC play) at the time of the announcement.

“As a staff we have and will always prioritize the health and safety our student-athletes,” head coach Stephanie White 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.”

Prior to its first game of the season, multiple Vanderbilt players opted out due to concerns regarding COVID-19. The Commodores then lost two more players due to health conditions: sophomore guard Demi Washington on Dec. 7 announced that she would miss the season after being diagnosed with myocarditis, then a university spokesperson confirmed on Jan. 17 that senior guard Enna Pehadzic would miss the remainder of the season with an undisclosed injury. Pehadzic was averaging 13.1 points in 31.4 minutes per game prior to her injury.

The program was forced to postpone or cancel multiple games so far this season. Due to a combination of injuries, positive tests and subsequent contact tracing, the Commodores first paused all basketball-related activities on Nov. 17, then cancelled their first three nonconference games against Tennessee Tech, Middle Tennessee State and Texas Tech. They came back on Dec. 5 and played five-straight games before entering another COVID-19-induced shutdown, this time cancelling a nonconference game against Samford and three SEC games against Florida, Mississippi State and Missouri.