UMass football to return to play in October

Staff reports
 |  The Patriot Ledger
The University of Massachusetts, which had originally cancelled all sports until the spring semester in August, announced on Monday that the football program is returning to action next month.

According to a press release from the athletic department, football players returned to campus in June. During those 13 weeks, 1,800 COVID-19 tests were administered to players, coaches and support staff with only two positive results.

“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.”

The Minuteman plan to begin playing games in mid-October. Last week, the Big 10 announced its football teams will start their seasons with games on Oct. 23 and 24.

“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.”

According to the press release, athletes can opt out of the season with no impact to their NCAA eligibility, roster status or scholarships. Fans won’t be allowed at home games.

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