CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - For the third time this season, the UVA football team has had a game postponed due to COVID-19.
And for the third time, the Cavaliers can say: It wasn’t us.
Virginia was scheduled to kickoff under the lights at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, but issues in the Florida State program forced the game to be postponed at the last minute.
The ACC mandates all student-athletes be tested three times per week, with one test administered within three days of competition.
For football specifically, one test must be performed the day before a game, and another within 48 hours of the game’s conclusion.
In a statement released by FSU, athletic director David Coburn says, “Our team underwent the mandated third-party testing yesterday and learned late last night that we had one positive test. Contact tracing this morning determined that, with opt-outs and injuries, we had just 44 scholarship players for the game, with some position groups depleted almost entirely.”
As the postponement did not come until Saturday morning, the Cavaliers were already in Florida, and ready to play.
Coburn says, “We deeply regret that many Florida State and Virginia fans have already traveled to the game as well as Virginia’s team. We simply had no way of knowing we would not be playing until this morning. We made every effort to play, but we could not do so in a way that was safe for the players.”
It’s the second week in a row a team has left Tallahassee without playing a game, as last week Clemson had a player test positive in the final round of testing, and the schools could not come to an agreement on playing the game.
Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall says, “We want to test as frequently as possible, and as close to the game as possible, to be as safe as possible for both teams, so I think we’re doing the best we can as a (conference).”
Now that he has experienced playing football during a pandemic, Mendenhall says a few of the protocols the league came up with could have been different, like an exact number of minimum players to compete, or having a third party make the decision on whether or not to play.
Mendenhall adds, “Possibly if you don’t play that might have counted as a loss for your team, rather than the game just being moved.”
The Virginia football program has not had a player test positive since the Miami game on October 24th.
Senior linebacker Matt Gahm says, “There’s a sense of pride in carrying that around, knowing we’ve handled it pretty well. About as well as we possibly can. About as well as anybody in the country.”
“I feel safe,” says senior cornerback Nick Grant, “and there’s a mindset of safety that surrounds our program. That allows players to play harder, and focus on just football.”
Back in fall camp, Mendenhall had said he was spending most of his time focused on protocols for the coronavirus, rather than football, and so far, it’s paid off.
“One of the leaders for the company that does the testing, basically made a comment this past week, ‘whatever you’re doing, just keep doing it, because we are not seeing that anywhere else, in terms of the numbers,’” says Mendenhall. “So history now, through eight games, says COVID is most likely not an issue with our team. I do know that can change at any time.”
Virginia is scheduled to host Boston College next Saturday.