UConn announced Wednesday that its college football team will not compete during the 2020-21 academic year, canceling its season due to risks associated with COVID-19. With the announcement, the Huskies become the first FBS team to opt out the 2020 season.
The players will remain on scholarship, their status as students will continue through either virtual or in-person learning this academic year and they will have access to the football facilities and support services in accordance with NCAA rules and local health protocols. But according to athletic director David Benedict, "the safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk."
"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 said. "Ultimately, the student-athletes would rather preserve their year of eligibility with an eye to competing under more typical circumstances during the 2021 season."
UConn opened spring practice on Feb. 4 and was one of the few schools to complete its spring practice schedule. Players have also been back on campus going through voluntary activities since July under COVID-19 protocols with zero positive tests. Still, the risks associated with a season were understood by the players who offered their own collective statement on the decision.
"As a team we are in full support of the decision to not compete in 2020," the statement 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. 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."