UConn football’s 2020 season is over before it began. On Wednesday, the Huskies became the first FBS football program to cancel its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we’ve decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season,” director of athletics David Benedict said in a release. ”The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.”
No players have tested positive for the virus since returning to campus in July, but conditions nationwide necessitated the suspension of the season. It is unclear how any financial agreements made with other schools for games will be handled.
In what was supposed to be its first year as an independent, UConn saw its original slate of 12 games dwindle as numerous conferences have either moved to a conference-only format for this season (like the Big Ten or SEC) or canceled fall sports all together (like Maine in the CAA).
Connecticut’s travel restrictions also would have made life difficult for the Huskies regardless of the scheduling problems. Governor Ned Lamont issued an executive order which requires travelers from a list of 34 states where daily positive test numbers are higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or the positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average is over 10 percent to quarantine for 14 days. Alternatively, teams could be tested in the days prior to the game and receive all negative tests before traveling.
Only two teams on UConn’s schedule — Army and UMass — are from states not on the governor’s travel advisory list.
Though eligibility issues still need to be sorted out, this could mean that the UConn careers of Kyle Williams, DJ Morgan, Diamond Harrell, Omar Fortt, Brian Keating, Dillon Harris, Jay Rose and Ryan Van Demark are over.
The decision to cancel the season was made in collaboration with the players and they issued a statement in support of the administration.
“As a team we are in full support of the decision to not compete in 2020. We have many health concerns and not enough is known about the potential long term effects of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, we have not had the optimal time to train mentally & physically to be properly prepared to compete this season. We love this game and love competing. We came to campus in the beginning of July knowing there would be challenges presented by the pandemic but it is apparent to us now that these challenges are impossible to overcome.”
After springs sports were canceled, the NCAA granted an extra year to all spring sport athletes that were affected by the pandemic. Schools could offer the players the same aid or less that they received as seniors which would not count against the typical aid limits. As of now, it’s unclear if the NCAA will do the same for affected fall athletes.
Team members will remain enrolled in classes and will retain access to facilities and support services to remain NCAA compliant.
In July, the Big East Conference canceled non-conference play for all fall sports — men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball — in response to the pandemic. These athletes are expected to return to campus in the next few weeks with the rest of the student population moving in by August 14.