BOSTON (CBS) — As the Power 5 conferences scramble to figure out a way to stage a 2020 college football season in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, one local team is bowing out.

UMass will not be playing football in the fall, the school announced on Tuesday.

“After consulting with university, state and public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 UMass football season,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford in a release. “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 is not a member of any conference, having left the Mid-American Conference in 2016 to become independent.

“I am absolutely heartbroken for our players, our former players, our alumni and our UMass Football community,” 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.”

The Minutemen have been one of the worst teams in college football since moving up to the FBS, having gone 19-77 since making that move in 2012. The team went 1-11 last year in Bell’s first season as head coach.

Bamford said that UMass remains “hopeful” to conduct a season for its fall sports in the spring of 2021.

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