Though the coronavirus pandemic has shut down campus, South Carolina basketball star Maik Kotsar is still at school while he rehabs from shoulder surgery.
Students and student-athletes have been told to stay away from campus and students began taking virtual classes on Monday. But an exception was made for athletes who are receiving medical treatment due to injuries. Kotsar, who just finished his senior season, is also considered a special case because he is from the country of Estonia.
Kotsar injured his shoulder just before the SEC Tournament. He had surgery last week, just a few days after the SEC and NCAA cancelled all postseason basketball tournaments and all other athletic activities were suspended for the remainder of the academic year.
“He’s been given special permission to still be around, but Maik has to be very careful and very responsible to keep to himself safe through this whole process,” head coach Frank Martin said Monday.
Kotsar is doing his rehab with team trainer Mark Rodgers, who also has special permission to be on campus to work with injured athletes who need treatment. Forward Alanzo Frink is scheduled to have minor knee surgery later this month and will also rehab on campus.
Kotsar’s injury occurred at the end of a fabulous senior season. He averaged 11 points and six rebounds per game and led the Gamecocks with 46 steals and 34 blocked shots to make the All-SEC second team. Martin saw him last week and said the four-year starter, who also played on his 2017 Final Four team, was doing well.
“He was in good spirits,” he said. “Obviously, he was in a real frustrating place when it happened right before the conference tournament. And it was really, really difficult as a coach to see something like that happen, because at the time we had no idea the season was going to get shut down. But to be around him the other day, his spirits were completely different. He was in a real good place and now he can deal with the rehabilitation process.”
The NCAA is moving toward granting spring sports athletes an extra year of eligibility after their seasons were suspended and then cancelled and is considering extending that to basketball and winter sports as well. That would allow Kotsar to possibly return for one more year.
But Martin is doubtful the waiver will be granted for winter sports and is not sure how that could work. While most spring sports had played only a third of their seasons, men’s and women’s basketball had completed the regular season and were playing in conference tournaments or getting ready for the NCAA tournament when those postseasons were cancelled.
“That’s a delicate situation,” he said. “In men’s basketball, the majority of seniors actually completed their careers. It’s not like they are missing out on any games. There was a small percentage of seniors who were going to have an opportunity to play in postseason basketball. … I don’t know how you grant the ones who maybe had a chance to play in postseason eligibility, and then the ones who weren’t going to play in the postseason they are not granted. I’m struggling with that myself.”