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UMass cancels football season due to coronavirus

UMass announced Tuesday that the 2020 football season is canceled due to the health risks associated with it amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The state’s flagship university had already seen a number of its scheduled opponents fall off its schedule after conferences across the country decided to forgo the nonconference portion of their slates. UMass plays as an independent at the FBS level, meaning it has no connection to a conference.

“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,” athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “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.”

The 2020 schedule had dates at UConn, which announced last week it would forgo the season, and at Auburn, which canceled all of its nonconference games as part of an SEC-wide plan to stem the spread of the virus.

Players had returned to campus beginning in late June to prepare for summer workouts. According to the school, only one positive test came back from more than 600 administered in the last two months.

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

Bamford said in the announcement that UMass intends to hold the full fall sports slate in the spring semester.


Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.

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