SAN ANTONIO -- UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Wednesday that he discussed COVID-19 testing for this weekend's NCAA Women's Final Four with Baylor coach Kim Mulkey on Monday before their Elite Eight game, and that her postgame remarks to the media about testing didn't "come out of nowhere with no context."
"What Kim was doing was an extension of a conversation that we had on a Zoom call with the NCAA medical staff," Auriemma said. "Who said to us coaches that after the Sweet 16, having been in the bubble for this amount of time -- and having been tested every day -- the chances that someone would test positive between Monday or Tuesday and Friday, Saturday, Sunday -- to use their words -- were remote.
"Me, I'm OK if they test them, OK if they don't. There were some facts behind what she was saying. It's unfortunate that it came out the way that it did."
Mulkey drew widespread criticism for saying the NCAA should stop COVID testing for the Final Four.
"Wouldn't it be a shame to keep COVID testing and then you got kids that test positive or something and they don't get to play in the Final Four?" Mulkey said Monday.
An NCAA spokesman said the tests will continue until the end of the tournament Sunday.
Mulkey confirmed to ESPN that before tipoff Monday, she and Auriemma talked about their own experiences with having COVID-19 and whether it was necessary to test on the final weekend. She said that conversation with Auriemma was the reason why she brought up the topic in the postgame media session: to say it was highly unlikely anyone would test positive, based on what NCAA medical personnel told them. Mulkey also pointed out that unlike in the regular season, when teams were tested three times a week, they have been tested every day at the tournament.
Auriemma said talking about COVID-19 has been a difficult thing at times for coaches.
"This past year has shown us that there's a lot of difficult topics to talk about," Auriemma said. "That if you express your true feelings -- whether there's facts behind it or not -- people have already made up their mind whether they're going to believe it or not. And they're going to react a certain way.
"COVID has been such a controversial subject. We had an administration that made it controversial and a country that made it controversial. It became nationwide, like, 'Plant your flag, and this is where I am, and this is where I stand on it.'"
Auriemma was asked whether he had any concerns about potential false-positive results impacting the national semifinals or final.
"There have been false positives here," Auriemma said. "That was one of the issues that we talked about that was [also] talked about on the men's side using the PCR test. And here, they were using the antigen test, and there were quite a few false positives that weren't in Indianapolis.
"So is there a chance that that could happen between now and Friday, and some player or some team can't play? I guess there's always a chance of that. There's nothing 100 percent. But going by what our medical staff said to us, as a group of coaches, the chances of something happening beyond the regionals was remote. That's provided everybody stays and does what they've been doing: Stay within the bubble, keep your bubble tight."