COVID-19 outbreak postpones Gators’ home game

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The Florida Gators’ game against the LSU Tigers scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 17, in the Swamp has been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the UF football team.

MONICA HERNDON/TAMPA BAY TIMES/TNS

BY EDGAR THOMPSON
ORLANDO SENTINEL/TNS

GAINESVILLE – The Florida Gators’ game against the LSU Tigers scheduled for Saturday in the Swamp has been postponed due to an outbreak among the UF football team.

The game is tentatively scheduled to be played on Dec. 12.

“Among our scholarship players, we have 18 current positives. We have another three walk-ons who are positive, so a total of 21 current team members, and when you add in those who are quarantined through contact tracing as a result of those positives, in addition to a handful of players who are on the non-COVID injury list, it gives the Gators less than 50 scholarship players available currently,” UF athletics director Scott Stricklin said.

“Fortunately, all those who are positive in this instance, including some coaches and some football staff, they seem to be either asymptomatic or only experiencing mild symptoms so that’s obviously a positive right now and hopefully they’ll continue to not have more severe symptoms.”

Assistants too

Sources confirmed the decision Wednesday afternoon, a day after the Orlando Sentinel reported 19 Florida football players tested positive for COVID-19. The SEC later announced the game change.

Stricklin suspended team activities Tuesday while allowing UF Health and Gators sports medical staff to re-evaluate the situation.

During the SEC teleconference earlier in the day, coach Dan Mullen said two of his assistants have tested positive for COVID-19, but they are not reporting any symptoms. Mullen said he has not tested positive for the highly transmissible virus.

Mullen said the entire team had been tested for the virus each of the past four days in order to determine the scope of the outbreak.

Other postponements

The Gators are the latest program forced to postpone a game due to the spread of the highly transmissible virus. Vanderbilt’s game Saturday at Missouri was postponed Monday, presumably to Dec. 12, because the visiting Commodores were down to 56 scholarship players.

The virus has prompted schools and conferences to postpone more than two dozen college football games and forced many teams to compete without key players.

Notre Dame suspended team activities a week during late September and postponed a game with Wake Forest due to an outbreak involving 39 players. The Irish returned to the field last week with a 42-26 home win against Florida State. The Gators were scheduled to host LSU Saturday, and then Missouri on Oct. 24 prior to UF’s bye week. Dan Mullen’s squad is scheduled to visit Vanderbilt Nov. 21.

The SEC in August adjusted to a 10-game conference-only schedule with two bye weeks in order to provide flexibility for schools impacted by COVID-19. The league moved the conference title game to Dec. 19 and left open Dec. 12 as a spot in the calendar to make up postponed games.

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