Memphis played one of the first games of the 2020 college football season in Week 1 with a 37-24 win over Arkansas State. The Tigers' next game, against Houston on Sept. 18, will be postponed, however, following an outbreak of COVID-19 within the program.
The university announced Saturday that its game with Houston will be moved to a date that will be determined. The news came the day after the program announced that it had paused practices and other group activities while it dealt with the outbreak. Houston, meanwhile, is expected to play Baylor in place of playing Memphis next week.
"I am disappointed that we will be unable to play the Houston game at this time, but a season without a pause or change was always going to be unlikely," Memphis athletic director Laird Veatch said. "We will continue to closely monitor all those impacted and do what is best for the safety and health of our student-athletes, coaches and staff."
Citing a source, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that "at least 20 people within the program who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently in a 10-day isolation period" while "at least another 20" are in quarantine because of contract tracing. The spike in cases is reportedly attributed to a party bus carrying members of the team following the win over Arkansas State.
At least one player, Memphis defensive lineman O'Bryan Goodson Jr., has disputed that account, though. Moreover, it would seem Goodson is implying the outbreak was Arkansas State's fault in some way.
Fortunately, Memphis has indicated that none of the cases are serious. Positive cases are one thing and should be treated seriously regardless of who contracts the virus, but contact tracing protocols are what can decimate a depth chart.
Already, several games have been rescheduled or postponed indefinitely due to either an outbreak or preparation times affected by an outbreak. The season isn't even two weeks old yet. Disruptions have been, and will continue to be, a part of the 2020 season -- for however long that season will be.