Rutgers women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer to miss season over COVID-19 concerns

Rutgers women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer is going to miss the upcoming season because of COVID-19 concerns, the school announced Monday.

The 73-year-old coach hasn't been with the team since April, when the delta variant of the virus was becoming widespread in the United States.

"This COVID situation is for real and we have to be very careful and treat it with great respect,'' she told reporters in February after Rutgers returned from a six-week pause for the virus.

Team spokesman Matt Choquette said last month when the coach skipped Big Ten media day that Stringer was worried about the lack of testing this season compared with last season, the highly contagious nature of the delta variant and her desire not to transmit the disease to her 40-year-old daughter, who has required special care since contracting spinal meningitis at age 2.

Stringer has 1,055 wins in her 50-year coaching career and is fourth all time in Division I victories. She was going to start her 27th season at Rutgers. Associate head coach Tim Eatman has been filling in for Stringer since April and will stay in that role.

He also was in charge when Stringer missed the final few games of the 2018-19 season because of exhaustion.

Stringer signed a five-year extension in April. The contract guarantees compensation of $5.5 million, beginning at $1 million in the first year, plus performance incentives and retention bonuses.

The Scarlet Knights finished last season 14-5, losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament to BYU. The team graduated star Arella Guirantes to the WNBA, and standout freshman Diamond Johnson transferred to N.C. State.

Rutgers opens the season on Tuesday against Saint Peter's.