At least 13 members of the Boston College women’s and men’s swimming and diving team have tested positive for COVID-19, causing the team to suspend practices, according to a person connected to the program.
The outbreak raises concerns about BC’s decision to field athletic teams this fall, while many other colleges and universities in the region have chosen to cancel or postpone their schedules because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BC athletic department acknowledged the cluster.
"We can confirm that members of our swimming and diving team have tested positive for COVID-19,” Jason Baum, the school’s senior associate athletics director for communications, said. “We have temporarily paused all team activities with the swimming and diving program. The student-athletes who tested positive are in isolation in accordance with university COVID-19 protocols.”
The number of infected students could increase as additional test results become available Thursday. BC’s roster lists 41 swimmers and divers from 17 states and Canada.
How the team became exposed to the highly contagious virus was unclear. A small number of team members fell ill Monday. Positive test results rose steadily Tuesday and reached 13 by early Wednesday, according to the person connected to the program. The team has not practiced since Monday.
BC is part of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which is one of the only conferences to move forward with its athletic programming amid the coronavirus outbreak.
That includes the football team, whose schedule opens Sept. 19 against Duke in Durham, N.C., has had only one player test positive for COVID-19, in June, according to the school.
BC now faces the challenge of containing the virus to protect the rest of the student body, including its big-budget football team, which receives about $30 million a year through its affiliation with the ACC.
Many members of the swimming and diving team have been moved to a hotel to quarantine, the person connected to the program said.
BC reported on its COVID-19 website that a total of 38 undergraduate students and two others at the school have tested positive for the pathogen, including 26 during the most recent week, Aug. 31 to Sept. 6. As of Tuesday, 30 undergraduate students were in isolation, the report stated. In all, the school had administered 22,239 tests through Tuesday, including 12,545 to undergraduates.
BC declined to say how many students who have become infected with the virus are members of the school’s sports teams, other than the one football player. In addition to the football team, BC’s women’s soccer, field hockey, and volleyball teams are preparing to play full ACC schedules this fall. Other programs, like swimming and diving, are holding workouts.
Baum said BC has yet to develop a schedule for the swimming and diving teams. Many of the team’s usual competitors, including Harvard, Dartmouth, and Tufts, are not competing this fall. Boston University has started practicing but has yet to make a schedule, and Northeastern has yet to determine if it will push back the start of its season, its representatives said.
Last year, BC’s swimming and diving teams opened their schedule on Sept. 21 with their annual Maroon vs. Gold meet.
Globe correspondent Nate Weitzer contributed to this report.
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