Due to rising coronavirus tests, Saturday’s college football game between the University of Alabama and defending national champion LSU will be postponed. LSU lacked the minimum number of scholarship players to be able to field a team.
“Based on the number of student-athletes unavailable due to positive tests, contact tracing, and non-COVID injuries, we will not have the minimum number of scholarship players necessary to play on Saturday,” LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said. “We are disappointed there will be no football in Tiger Stadium this weekend, but we will always prioritize the health and wellness of our student-athletes. We will continue to follow the league’s protocols in order to safely and responsibly return to play.”
“When they tell me we’re at a certain number, we can’t play,” said LSU head coach Ed Orgeron. “I think that’s up to the league and Scott (Woodward).”
On Wednesday, the SEC announced that both the Alabama at LSU and Texas A&M at Tennessee football games on Nov. 14 have been postponed due to a combination of positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the LSU and Texas A&M football programs, consistent with the SEC’s COVID-19 management requirements.
“While it is unfortunate to have multiple postponements in the same week, we began the season with the understanding interruptions to the schedule were possible and we have remained focused throughout the season on the health of everyone around our programs,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “We must remain vigilant, within our programs and in our communities, to prevent the spread of the virus and to manage activities that contribute to these interruptions.”
It was announced Monday that the Auburn at Mississippi State game on Nov. 14 has been postponed due to positive tests and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Mississippi State football program.
Auburn has its own COVID-19 problems and has suspended its practices due to multiple positive coronavirus tests. Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn said that the Tigers have nine players and three staff members who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Yesterday, we found out that we would not be playing this week against Mississippi State because they did not have enough scholarship guys to play,” said Malzahn. “We have had our own issues that started since our off week as far as COVID is concerned. We had nine players test positive, three staff members test positive. We are pausing our own workouts and practices until we get this thing under control and we are testing every day to get this under control.”
“Frankly we were concerned about ourselves,” Malzahn said when asked about the Mississippi State situation.
“There were some contact tracing people that were involved in this,” Malzahn said, raising the possibility that more than the nine players testing positive may not be available when football activities at Auburn resume.
The Auburn at Mississippi State and Texas A&M at Tennessee games have been tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12. Because LSU has a game with Florida already tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12, the opportunity to reschedule the Alabama at LSU game will need to be evaluated.
The rescheduling of games on the remaining SEC football schedule may include Dec. 19 as a playing date. The SEC Championship game is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 19, and, at this point, both Florida and Alabama have a high probability of playing in that game.
The SEC’s COVID-19 management requirements, as developed by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, are available on SECsports.co
The conference released a statement: “The Southeastern Conference (SEC) continues to closely monitor COVID-19 and associated public health information related to the resulting pandemic. Since April 21, the SEC Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force (Task Force) has met weekly to provide guidance to the SEC, with a priority placed on the health, safety and wellness of student-athletes (SAs), coaches and staff members, as it prepares for membership decisions related to the return of athletics activities, including team gatherings, practices, conditioning and competition.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented economic disruptions and has led to the loss of 1,279,184 lives globally, including 9,190 on Tuesday alone.