The Florida Gators have suspended all football operations following a game against Texas A&M. Five players tested positive for COVID-19, prompting Athletic Director Scott Stricklin to release a statement. He said that the team would stop workouts and practices due to contract tracing.
"The University of Florida football team has experienced an increase in positive COVID tests among players this week. Out of an abundance of caution, team activities are paused as of Tuesday afternoon," Stricklin said in a statement. "Head coach Dan Mullen has been in communication with football players and their parents, and I have had conversations with the Southeastern Conference office, last week's opponent Texas A&M, and this week's opponent LSU."
The Gators have a pivotal SEC game against the Tigers set for Saturday afternoon. ESPN is set to broadcast the game, which has a kickoff time of 3:30 p.m. ET. If the game does not take place due to the coronavirus tests, however, the two teams will likely face off on Dec. 12.
Positive tests have caused issues with multiple teams in recent weeks. Baylor's football team is not currently practicing due to 28 players having coronavirus. A previously-scheduled game against Oklahoma State will also move to Dec. 12. Similarly, Vanderbilt's game against Missouri was postponed due to positive tests on the Tennessee team.
Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen sparked criticism following Saturday's loss to Texas A&M by saying that he would like to see a packed stadium for the LSU game. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted stadium restrictions across the state, providing the opportunity for fans to flock to the seats if allowed.
"I know our governor passed that rule, so certainly, hopefully, the university administration decides to let us pack the Swamp against LSU," Mullen said, per the Tampa Bay Times. "I certainly hope our university administration follows the governor. The governor has passed a rule that we're allowed to pack the Swamp and have 90,000 in the Swamp to give us the home-field advantage Texas A&M had today."
Before the football season, the Gators announced that they would allow an estimated 20% — roughly 17,000 fans — at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during the season. Oct. 3's home opener against South Carolina featured an announced 15,120 fans. The administration has the freedom to now allow full capacity at home games, but that decision may not take place. Having football operations suspended due to positive coronavirus tests puts Saturday's game into doubt.