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The University of Connecticut football team has canceled its 2020 season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
UConn's Department of Athletics made the announcement on Wednesday, explaining that the athletes would remain on scholarship to continue their classes, either virtually or in person, as full-time students. The team members will also continue to receive the support services set aside for student-athletes, as well as have access to any designated facilities.
"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. "The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk."
The team returned to campus in early July and has reported zero positive cases of COVID-19 since. However, players still felt it would be best to refrain from playing this season.
"The necessary measures needed to mitigate risk of football student-athletes contracting the coronavirus are not conducive to delivering an optimal experience for our team," Benedict added. "Ultimately, the student-athletes would rather preserve their year of eligibility with an eye to competing under more typical circumstances during the 2021 season."
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Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty UConn Huskies head coach Randy Edsall
Head coach Randy Edsall supported the move, saying it was "the best decision" for the team.
"We engaged and listened to the concerns of our football student-athletes and feel this is the best decision for their health, safety, and well-being," Edsall said in the news release. "Our team is united in this approach and we will use this time to further player development within the program and gear ourselves to the 2021 season."
UConn football players also released a joint statement approving of the department's decision to cancel their season.
"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," it read. "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."
Elsewhere, universities are grappling with decisions to reform or continue athletics as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.
Just last week, more than a dozen players on the Rutgers University football team tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak reportedly stemmed from an on-campus party.
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