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The 2020 UMass football season has been canceled, according to a release by the university's department of athletics on Tuesday morning.
"After consulting with university, state and public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 UMass football season," said athletic director Ryan Bamford. "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. 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."
Student-athletes began returning to campus well over a month ago, with health and safety protocols designed to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in place. Over the course of seven weeks, UMass reported just one positive COVID-19 test across more than 600 tests administered.
"I am absolutely heartbroken for our players, our former players, our alumni and our UMass Football community," said UMass football head coach Walt Bell. "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.
"I would like to give an unbelievable amount of gratitude to our medical professionals, our administration, our campus, our athletic training staff and our operations staff for creating one of the safest environments in college football," Bell said. "The testing, the protocols, the risk mitigation, and the execution have been incredible."
UMass football did not complete its spring practice regiment or host its Spring Game due to the NCAA's cancellation of athletic activities in March, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Much like the MAC, rival UConn, and several FCS leagues who've previously called off fall sports, UMass hopes to instead play football in the spring of '21.
"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," Bamford said. "We remain hopeful and fully intend to conduct a competitive schedule for our fall sports in the 2021 spring semester."