The University of Wisconsin has canceled Saturday's home football game against Purdue, the second straight game the 10th-ranked Badgers have called off as COVID-19 cases within the program continue to rise.
As reported by The Associated Press, school officials announced Tuesday that three more players and two additional staffers have tested positive since Saturday, bringing the program’s total number of active cases to 27. That includes 15 players and 12 staffers.
All team-related activities for Wisconsin remain paused indefinitely.
“I’m concerned with the health and safety of the guys,” athletic director Barry Alvarez said. “No one wants to be on that field any more than I do. But I’m not going to lose track of priorities."
The Badgers had been scheduled to visit Nebraska on Oct. 31. Neither game will be rescheduled. The Big Ten’s schedule doesn’t give teams any off weeks, making it extremely difficult to reschedule canceled games. The second cancellation gives Wisconsin little room for error in its quest to reach a second straight conference championship game.
The Big Ten requires teams to play at least six games to be eligible for the league championship game. If the average number of conference games played by all Big Ten teams is below six, programs must play no less than two fewer league games than that average to be considered.
“We don't leave ourselves much wiggle room right now, and we know that,” Alvarez said. “But hopefully we can get this corralled and get back on the field and playing.”
Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski respected Wisconsin's decision. “While we looked forward to our game this weekend against Wisconsin, we understand the Badgers’ decision to cancel based on medical advice and their need to control any additional transmission of the virus within their team and staff," Bobinski said in a statement. “The health, well-being and safety of all student-athletes, coaches and staff remains the top priority for the entire Big Ten and will continue to guide decision-making.”
The Purdue-Wisconsin matchup becomes the 38th game involving a Football Bowl Subdivision team to get postponed or canceled.