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UT virus cluster linked to Nov. 20 basketball 'team activities'

The Vols paused all team activities Nov. 23 after head coach Rick Barnes and other team personnel tested positive.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The University of Tennessee has confirmed a cluster of COVID-19 cases traced to men's basketball "team activities" last month at Pratt Pavilion.

The University of Tennessee confirmed there were 12 cases and 9 close contacts associated with the cluster.

The specific date was Nov. 20. UT's announcement Thursday on its COVID-19 dashboard essentially confirms what had become apparent last month.

The Vols paused all team activities Nov. 23 after head coach Rick Barnes and other team personnel tested positive for the highly contagious virus.

Tennessee Athletics spokesperson Tom Satkowiak confirmed the Vols are still on pace to return to basketball activities on Dec. 5.

The Vols had to cancel four games because of the positive tests and contact tracing.

UT said Barnes experienced mild symptoms. He's now recovered.

Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer also tested positive last month and has since been cleared to return to work.

The team has added a new game to its schedule. The Vols will host UT Martin on Dec. 9 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Classes at UT ended last week. Most students have gone home and won't be back until spring semester, which starts Jan. 20.

UT numbers likely will drop in the coming days and weeks. Even though most students are home, the university has asked them to keep it apprised if they test positive or have had to quarantine.

On Thursday, reflecting Wednesday figures, UT showed 438 people in isolation or quarantine, including 241 students off campus, 94 students on campus and 103 employees.

There were 19 new cases reported Thursday.