The University of Maine men's basketball team is pictured during a recent game against the University of New Hampshire at Memorial Gym in Orono. Credit: Tyler Neville / UMaine Athletics

The University of Maine has halted all games for its winter sports teams through at least Feb. 4 due to positive COVID-19 cases among Tier-1 personnel which includes student-athletes, coaches and support staff.

However, players on those teams who haven’t tested positive and aren’t under quarantine due to contact tracing can still practice as long as they adhere to the health and safety guidelines established by the state, UMaine athletics and their sports conferences.

Hockey East requires its athletes to undergo rapid antigen tests seven days a week and America East has its basketball players tested five times per week.

“We are managing some cases,” said Dan Demeritt, the University of Maine’s executive director of public affairs. “Our teams have been traveling a lot and the students returned to school on Monday. We want to get the semester off to a safe start.”

TRACKING THE CORONAVIRUS IN MAINE

Demeritt on Monday night said he was not able to provide details on how many COVID-19 cases have been detected or which teams are affected.

The UMaine men’s basketball team on Jan. 19 paused team activities because of two presumptive positive tests. Members who were deemed to be close contacts were placed in quarantine.

The Black Bears women’s and men’s basketball teams both already were scheduled to be idle this weekend and were ready to prepare for Feb. 6-7 games. The hockey teams were expected on Tuesday to find out who they would be playing this weekend, but those games will not take place.

UMaine’s situation reflects the kinds of challenges other schools that belong to the same conferences are experiencing.

Hockey East and America East have both scrapped their original composite schedules and are now determining matchups either weekly (Hockey East) or bi-weekly (America East). The goal is ensure that teams are able to safely play as many games against different teams as possible while working around COVID-19 interruptions.

The UMaine men’s and women’s hockey teams, who have yet to play a home game due to a state mandate that limits indoor activities to 50 people, were supposed to learn on Tuesday who they were going to play this coming weekend.

Maine is the only state in New England that hasn’t hosted a college hockey game.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams aren’t slated to play until Feb. 6-7 when the men head to UMass Lowell for a two-game series and the women entertain UMass Lowell for a pair.

“We look forward to resuming competition at the appropriate time,” Demeritt said.

UMaine continues to follow all COVID-19 related health and safety guidance while monitoring the status of the pandemic in Maine and throughout the region.