The University of Massachusetts is the latest entity to reverse its decision on the 2020 college football season.
The Minutemen are back in, with the athletic department announcing Monday that the football team plans to play a limited fall schedule that will start in mid-October.
“The decision was reached 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 announcement reads. “It follows announcements from college football conferences across the country also returning to play this fall and reverses a department decision on August 11 to postpone football competition until the spring.”
UMass reported that more than 1,800 COVID-19 tests have been administered to members of the football program since late June. There have only been two positive tests.
"The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff has always been our first priority," director of athletics Ryan Bamford said in the release. "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 players and staff members will continue to be tested multiple times per week when the season starts, while no fans will be allowed in McGuirk Alumni Stadium. The university said that student-athletes can opt out of the season “with no impact to their NCAA eligibility, roster status or scholarship aid agreement.”
UMass’ announcement follows a similar one by the Big Ten Conference, which said last week that it would in fact hold a 2020 football season. The Mountain West Conference is reportedly on the verge of doing the same.
Related content: Big Ten Votes to Kick Off Football Season in October
According to Yahoo’s Pete Thamel, Mountain West officials, who voted Aug. 10 to postpone the season, met Monday to discuss frequent antigen testing for COVID-19, and left the meeting “optimistic the league will vote this week for its football programs to return to the field.”
Thamel reports that the league is looking at an eight-game conference schedule starting on Oct. 24, as well as a Dec. 19 Mountain West championship game.
Related content: Mountain West Call Off Fall Sports