The University of Massachusetts is canceling its upcoming football season, the latest domino to fall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in college sports.
UMass, an FBS independent program, announced the cancellation of its football season on Tuesday due to growing concerns for player safety. The decision comes less than a week after UConn canceled its football season.
UMass has canceled its fall football season, sources tell @TheAthleticCFB. Hoping to play in the spring. UMass is, of course, an FBS independent.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) August 11, 2020
The university’s decision comes at a time of great uncertainty for the entire college football season. The Mountain West Conference announced the cancellation of its fall sports on Monday, and there is strong support in the Big Ten to not play football this fall.
While many football programs have seen the number of COVID-19 cases drop among their student-athletes, the toll the virus can take is more evident. Personal stories from players like Indiana freshman Brady Feeney and LSU linebacker Travez Moore have highlighted the alarming impacts the coronavirus can have, even on young athletes.
While the SEC and ACC plan to push forward by playing football this fall, UMass is now taking the same precaution exercised by the Ivy League and many other conferences and universities.
“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, via statement. “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.”
UMass, which posted a 1-11 record this past season, already saw five of its scheduled games dropped from the 2020 schedule as an FBS independent. The program hopes to potentially play this spring, but it will depend on the progress made against COVID-19.
Following the school’s announcement, programs like Troy, Appalachian State, Temple, New Mexico State and Army will need to find new opponents for the upcoming season.