The University of Connecticut became the first school in college football‘s Bowl Subdivision to cancel its season, an ominous sign for those hoping that college sports can be played this fall as the United States continues to fail to get COVID-19 under control.
“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,” UConn director of athletics David Benedict said in a press release. “The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.”
Before this announcement, the prospects of the Huskies playing football this summer actually seemed relatively bright, as they were one of the only teams to complete a full spring schedule earlier this year.
Both Benedict and head football coach Randy Edsall said players were a driving force in canceling the season, and a group of players released a joint statement that was included in the school’s release.
“As a team we are in full support of the decision to not compete in 2020,” it read. “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.”
Other schools in the FBS — the highest tier of NCAA football — have tried to balance COVID-19 health concerns while salvaging at least some of the billions of dollars at stake by, for instance, canceling all non-conference games.
Tellingly, NCAA Divisions II and III — which have much lower financial states — have already canceled fall sports championships out concern for player and fan safety. And while UConn might be the first, it almost certainly won’t be the only FBS school to cancel the upcoming season in the hopes of returning in 2021.