Utah Football Season To Continue Despite Two Cancellations
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – University of Utah football fans will have to wait another week for a chance to see their team play after the Utes’ game against UCLA was canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests and quarantines among team members.
“Obviously a terribly disappointing day here,” said Mark Harlan, athletic director at the University of Utah. “I don’t know where college football is going guys. I really don’t. It’s been an unbelievable week.”
“Our hearts are broken, but we will continue to push forward as a team,” the team wrote on Twitter. “Family, always.”
Our hearts are broken, but we will continue to push forward as a team.
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) November 13, 2020
The reaction that followed included fans offering love and support for the team. But there were also several people frustrated at another canceled game mixed with doubt about what the season might hold, or whether there should even be a season.
“I think what we’ve learned in these last two weeks is there is no margin of error at all,” Harlan said.
Harlan said they have been testing players and staff twice a day – with antigen and PCR tests. Monday saw some positive cases but results from Tuesday to Thursday all came back negative. And Saturday’s game against UCLA seemed within reach.
Then on Friday, things changed quickly when a player on the travel squad tested positive. That result brought the program’s case count to 17 infected staff, coaches and players. Contact tracing put another 11 people in quarantine. And with that, the team said it did not meet the PAC-12 Conference’s threshold of 53 available scholarship student-athletes.
“We can talk all about whether you’re still in the race and all the rules, and all that other stuff. But what about them? What about their desire to keep pushing forward when you’ve had two straight weeks and you’re feeling like you can make it and then on Friday, you don’t,” Harlan told reporters in a virtual press conference on Friday.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) November 13, 2020
“I’m concerned about the guys and their spirits,” he said.
When questioned about the future of the five remaining weeks of the season, Harlan dismissed the idea of calling it off.
“I still believe as I sit here, there is a lot to play for. We’ve just got to get this virus out of our program,” he said. “We’re going to continue to try to give these young men every opportunity to compete.”
The delayed, shortened season leaves no room for make-up games and only five more opportunities to play.
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