NC State coach on vaccine: ‘Players can make own decisions’ – The San Diego Union-Tribune

North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent was happy to talk baseball after his team’s loss to Vanderbilt on Friday.

COVID-19 testing and vaccinations? Not so much.

NC State was missing four starting position players and had only 13 available for its College World Series game against Vanderbilt on Friday because of a COVID-19 issue on the team.

The Wolfpack lost 3-1 in a game delayed an hour after the NCAA said it needed time to complete “health and safety protocols.” NC State said “several players” had entered the COVID-19 protocol.

Avent grew frustrated and wouldn’t answer directly when asked if he or the baseball program encouraged players to be vaccinated.

“My job is to teach them baseball, make sure they get an education and keep them on the right track forward,” he said. “But I don’t try to indoctrinate my kids with my values or my opinions. Obviously, we talk about a lot of things. But these are young men that can make their own decisions and that’s what they did.”

Avent rolled his eyes when asked if he’s been vaccinated.

“If you want to talk baseball, we can talk baseball,” he said. “If you want to talk politics or stuff like that, you can go talk to my head of sports medicine, Rob Murphy.”

NC State did not immediately respond to a request for an interview with Murphy.

Avent said he found out there was a problem 45 minutes to an hour before the game. He told ESPN during an in-game interview that players not with the team were getting tested Friday afternoon and, if the results were negative, would have a chance to play in the rematch Saturday.

The Wolfpack opened the game with nine position players and four pitchers available.

The regulars in the lineup were Austin Murr, who moved from first to left field; Jonny Butler, who moved from left to center; Luca Tresh at his usual catcher spot; Devonte Brown in his usual spot in right field; and Vojtech Mensik, who moved from third base to shortstop.

Carson Falksken played second in place of J.T. Jarrett, Eddie Eisert was designated hitter instead of Terrell Tatum, DeAngelo Giles moved into Vojtech’s spot at third and Sam Highfill, the No. 2 starting pitcher, played first base.

Avent said he gave his available players the choice to play or forfeit Friday. They all wanted to play, he said.

Avent told reporters Monday an illness was running through the team but made no mention of it possibly being COVID-19. He said associate head coach Chris Hart had been sick for five or six days and that second baseman J.T. Jarrett and pitcher Cameron Cotter weren’t feeling well.

The pandemic heavily disrupted college sports over the past year and three teams dropped out of an NCAA championship event because of COVID-19: The VCU men’s basketball team, the Michigan men’s ice hockey team and the Rice women’s volleyball team.

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More NCAA baseball tournament coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/college-world-series and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25