WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - With questions surrounding the current status of head coach Karen Barefoot, the UNCW women’s basketball team hosted a virtual media day on Zoom without her on Thursday.
Prior to the question-and-answer period with the team, university officials made one statement.
“The one request that we have is that you refrain from asking questions about the leadership of the program,” said Eric Rhew, the assistant director of communications for UNCW Athletics.
So, no answers about Barefoot’s absence, despite UNCW confirming she’s still head coach, or why the university didn’t publicly announce assistant Tina Martin had taken over as interim head coach.
During Thursday’s video conference, Martin was asked if this was the most difficult offseason in her 34-year coaching career.
“Yes probably,” Martin said. “I’ve had some that we’ve had to recover from things that are difficult...I won’t go into that...and we’ve been able to recover from it. But yes, this has been a tough off-season—just the standpoint of not knowing.”
The pandemic has also made it a difficult offseason. The women’s basketball program is one of three teams in early October that were identified as having clusters of COVID-19 cases on campus.
“Our players have really bought into what we have to do now,” said Martin. “We are getting tested every week. And once we start our season, we are going to be tested three times a week. The players understand how important it is. You just have to take every precaution.”
The players continue to follow protocol but still know that they can been affected by COVID-19.
“The virus is so easily contractible,” added senior Carol-Anne Obusek. “We are in a setting that we are exposed to it in where we are. I think we’ve learned to wash your hands and stay 6 feet apart. I don’t think it will be an issue going forward. It wasn’t something that we necessarily had to learn from; it just happened.”
UNCW opens the league play on Saturday, Jan. 2 against Drexel.