Only nine days after the start of practice for the 2020-21 season, coronavirus has dealt a huge blow to William & Mary’s hopes of women’s basketball success.
Citing concerns about the virus, guards Eva Hodgson and Libby Underwood announced on Friday they are opting out of the season.
The decisions comes just weeks after W&M athletics practices were paused for four days, when 12 athletes and staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Hodgson was the standout last season as the Tribe went 21-8 and finished third in the Colonial Athletic Association. The 5-foot-9 junior followed a freshman season in which she was the CAA Rookie of the Year by earning All-CAA and all-state first team honors.
Her 20.7 points average led the CAA and ranked her eighth among Division I players. She was fourth nationally in free-throw shooting (91.2%), made 43% of her 3-pointers and scored in double figures in 28 of 29 games, while her 16 games of 20 points or more, consecutive 30-point performances among them, are a school record.
“Being the competitor that I am, I have truly wrestled with this decision,” Hodgson said in a statement. “For me the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 added a layer of anxiety to the 2020-21 season.
“At the end of the day, through a lot of prayer, gathering of information and counsel from those I hold dear, I’ve come to the conclusion that concerns over contracting and/or transmitting COVID-19 are not worth putting anyone in jeopardy.
“For those reasons, I have decided to opt-out this season. I love the game of basketball and my teammates and will miss the game dearly, but I will continue to support my team the best I can and hope for the best for them and fellow CAA competitors.”
Underwood, a 5-9 senior, who, like Hodgson, hails from New Hampshire, has played sparingly in her three seasons with the Tribe. She’s seen action in 52 games and scored 52 points.
“After careful thought and consideration for myself and my family, I have decided to opt-out of the 2020-21 season due to the concerns of COVID-19,” Underwood said. “The potential of contracting/transmitting the virus is not worth putting my family and friends at risk.
“I wish the best for the team and hope they are able to get the opportunity to prove themselves this season.”
Neither player’s career will be shortened should they decide to return for the 2021-22 season as the NCAA recently granted an extra year of eligibility for winter athletes. Tribe coach Ed Swanson will no doubt welcome them back.
“We support both Eva and Libby in their decisions,” he said. “In this uncertain time, the health and well-being of our student-athletes and the Tribe community is paramount.
“Eva and Libby made decisions that are important to them and their families. We stand behind them and will continue to support them.”
William & Mary isn’t the only local women’s program that will be without key players this season. On Friday, Old Dominion announced