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FBS independent UMass cancels fall football

UMass is cancelling its fall football season, the school announced Tuesday.

An FBS independent, UMass may attempt to play a season this spring, athletic director Ryan Bamford said.

“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,” Bamford said in a statement.

“… These times have presented us with extensive uncertainty, and we are disappointed for all the members of our fall sports programs who will not have the opportunity to compete this autumn.”We remain hopeful and fully intend to conduct a competitive schedule for our fall sports in the 2021 spring semester.”

Tuesday’s decision to cancel the fall season follows a similar move by UConn, which last Wednesday became the first FBS program to call off its fall season. UMass and UConn had been set to open the season against each other Sept. 3.

UMass held a team meeting Tuesday morning to inform players of the decision, a source said. The Minutemen had been set to open the season at home Sept. 12 against Troy.

“I am absolutely heartbroken for our players, our former players, our alumni and our UMass Football community,” UMass coach Walt Bell said in a statement. “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.”

Two FBS independents and two leagues, the Mid-American and Mountain West, have decided not to play a fall football season. Decisions could come later Tuesday from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and other conferences.

UMass joined the FBS in 2012 as a member of the Mid-American Conference but left the league following the 2015 season and became independent in football. Most of UMass’ teams compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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