Daily News

UMass Amherst Cancels Fall Football Season

AMHERST — UMass Amherst Athletics announced the cancellation of the 2020 UMass football season on Tuesday.

“After consulting with university, state, and public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 UMass football season,” Athletic Director Ryan Bamford said. “We have been in constant communication with university leadership and our football staff since March, with the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff remaining our top priority. The continuing challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic posed too great of a risk, and we reached the conclusion that attempting to play a season would not have placed the members of our program in the safest situation possible.”

Football student-athletes will remain enrolled in coursework full-time, either virtually or in-person, in line with the UMass Amherst’s update to its fall reopening plan, announced on Aug. 6. The university will also examine the possibility of playing football in the spring.

Football-team members began returning to campus for team activities in late June, with extensive health and safety protocols in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. Over the past seven weeks, the program had only one positive test with more than 600 COVID-19 tests administered.

“I am absolutely heartbroken for our players, our former players, our alumni, and our UMass football community,” said Head Coach Walt Bell said. “Our job as coaches and mentors is to provide opportunities for our players, and do everything in our power to not take them away. Today’s news was devastating, but we will be resilient and prepared to be our best when our best is required.

“I would like to give an unbelievable amount of gratitude to our medical professionals, our administration, our campus, our athletic training staff and our operations staff for creating one of the safest environments in college football,” he added. “The testing, the protocols, the risk mitigation, and the execution have been incredible.”

UMass football did not complete its spring practice regiment or host its spring game due to the NCAA’s cancellation of athletic activities in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These times have presented us with extensive uncertainty, and we are disappointed for all the members of our fall sports programs who will not have the opportunity to compete this autumn,” Bamford said. “We remain hopeful and fully intend to conduct a competitive schedule for our fall sports in the 2021 spring semester.”

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