AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The University of Massachusetts Amherst has announced it will be canceling its 2020 football season in efforts to keep student-athletes, coaches, and families safe during the ongoing pandemic.
According to an article posted by the University of Massachusetts Athletics, the difficult decision came after Athletic Director Ryan Bamford spoke with the university, and state and public health officials.
“After consulting with university, state and public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 UMass football season. 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.”Ryan Bamford, Athletic Director
Based on UMass’ recent re-opening plan that urged students not to return to campus, football student-athletes will remain enrolled full-time remotely unless they require to partake in in-person assignments.
In July, football players returned to campus for team activities and have had one person test positive for COVID-19 despite extensive health and safety protocols in place.
Head Coach Walt Bell expressed the decision to cancel this year’s season is heartbreaking.
“I am absolutely heartbroken for our players, our former players, our alumni and our UMass Football community. 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. The testing, the protocols, the risk mitigation, and the execution have been incredible.”Walt Bell, Head Coach
“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. We remain hopeful and fully intend to conduct a competitive schedule for our fall sports in the 2021 spring semester.”Ryan Bamford, Athletic Director