AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The University of Massachusetts Amherst has announced it will be playing its 2020 football season starting in mid-October.
According to a news release sent to 22News, the University of Massachusetts Athletics reviewed the football’s COVID-19 safety protocols and testing system and decided to reverse their decision to postpone football made on August 11th.
“Despite not playing yet, players have remained on campus since June and nearly 2,000 tests have been administered during that time. Coaches and players will continue to get tested for COVID-19 multiple times a week,” said UMass Sophomore Brent Ackerman. “It’s just a matter of safety and if it gets unsafe then I think the school will make the right call and cancel it.”
Student-athletes, coaches and team staff are tested several times a week. More than 1,800 COVID-19 tests have been administered with two positives results since the the start of team activities in June.
Director of athletics Ryan Bamford sent the following statement:
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff has always been our first priority,” said Bamford. “Since returning to campus in June, 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 student-athletes who choose not to practice or play this fall can opt out of the 2020 season with no impact to their NCAA eligibility, roster status or scholarship aid agreement.
“Today is a great day for Massachusetts Football,” said head football coach Walt Bell. “Everyone associated with our program is excited to play football this fall. We have successfully created one of the safest environments in college football since June and our young men deserve the opportunity to compete in 2020. We are grateful to our campus leadership for supporting academic and competitive opportunities for our student-athletes and staff to do what they love in a safe manner.”
The game schedule will be announced once the dates are confirmed with the opponents. McGuirk Alumni Stadium will not have any fans for the UMass home games.