UConn football head coach Randy Edsall wanted to let his players decide what should happen to their 2020 college football season because they’re the ones actually taking the field and assuming many risks, The Athletic reported Saturday. And well, it appears they have.
UConn officially canceled its 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the program announced Wednesday, which made it the first in the FBS to do so.
“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 statement. “The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.”
After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we’ve decided that @UConnFootball will not compete on the gridiron this season. https://t.co/R5dLlnFNo9
— UConn Huskies (@UConnHuskies) August 5, 2020
Also in the statement, UConn said the team has been on campus since early July, and no athletes have tested positive for COVID-19. And Benedict noted that the players are looking ahead while trying to stay healthy:
“Ultimately, the student-athletes would rather preserve their year of eligibility with an eye to competing under more typical circumstances during the 2021 season.”
Prior to the Huskies’ announcement Wednesday, they had already lost several games on their schedule — such as matchups against Illinois, Indiana and Ole Miss — with the Big Ten and SEC playing conference-only opponents this year. Other teams they were set to play this season include North Carolina, Virginia and Army.
Despite not having any positive COVID-19 tests, players are being isolated if they show any possible coronavirus symptoms, The Athletic reported. But it’s also still taking them nearly two weeks to get their test results.
Edsall previously explained that he gave players the option not to show up to campus for workouts in June, meetings and walkthroughs in July or training camp, which was scheduled to begin Wednesday. And if they said they didn’t feel comfortable, he said their scholarships wouldn’t be impacted. More via The Athletic:
“I’m not playing it, athletic directors aren’t playing it, presidents aren’t playing it, conference commissioners aren’t playing it. It’s the student-athletes,” Edsall said. “It’s important that I hear what our student-athletes want to do and what they think is best for the experience with them, their health, their welfare and safety. That’s one thing that we’re going to make sure that we hear and look at.
“The NFL has a players association, and they negotiated different things. Here in college, I’m going to make sure they have a voice.”
Players also released a statement through the school about the decision to cancel the season. They said:
“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.”
It likely helps the situation that UConn football is now an independent program and doesn’t have to fall in line with a conference. The Huskies officially left the American Athletic Conference in July — and owe a $17 million exit fee to be paid by 2026 — for the Big East, but that, of course, doesn’t apply to football.
So now, with UConn canceling its 2020 season because the coronavirus pandemic is raging across the U.S., we have to wonder if other programs will follow the Huskies’ lead.
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