BOSTON (CBS) — There will be a football season at UMass after all. The university announced Monday that it intends to schedule and play a limited number of football games starting in mid-October, calling an audible on its decision to postpone the season in August due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement comes as several conferences in college football reverse their decisions to postpone the 2020-21 season until the spring.
UMass reached its decision following a positive review of the football program’s stringent COVID-19 safety protocols and rigorous testing regimen, in place since players’ return to campus in June. The school is working to develop a schedule that will start in mid-October.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff has always been our first priority,” said director of athletics Ryan Bamford. “Since returning to campus in June, the members of our football program have been vigilant in following the policies and safety protocols instituted by the state, our university and athletics department, helping us reach a high level of confidence that we can safely conduct a truncated season this fall. Further, our recent work to generate a schedule in the spring semester, similar to our other fall sports, indicated that fall 2020 provided the best opportunity for our football student-athletes to take the field this academic year.”
UMass has administered more than 1,800 COVID-19 tests to members of the football program over the last 13 weeks, with only two positive results. All student-athletes, coaches and support staff will continue to be tested multiple times per week and can increase testing to meet additional opponent requirements in order to play games, if necessary.
“Today is a great day for Massachusetts Football,” said head football coach Walt Bell. “Everyone associated with our program is excited to play football this fall. We have successfully created one of the safest environments in college football since June and our young men deserve the opportunity to compete in 2020. We are grateful to our campus leadership for supporting academic and competitive opportunities for our student-athletes and staff to do what they love in a safe manner.”
As part of Monday’s announcement, UMass also said it will not host fans for home games at McGuirk Alumni Stadium this fall.