The University of Connecticut football team will not be playing this year. On Wednesday morning, the school's athletic department announced the football program is canceling its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Huskies are the first FBS team to suspend operations.
"After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we've decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season," UConn athletic director David Benedict said in a news release. "The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk." UConn head coach Randy Edsall said his team will now move forward and get ready for the 2021 season.
"We engaged and listened to the concerns of our football student-athletes and feel this is the best decision for their health, safety, and well-being," Edsall said. "Our team is united in this approach and we will use this time to further player development within the program and gear ourselves to the 2021 season." It was easy for UConn to cancel the season since they are not in a conference. In 2019, the Huskies were a member of the American Athletic Conference. They left the conference for the Big East, which doesn't play football at the FBS level. UConn is set to be an independent like Notre Dame, BYU and Army. Furthermore, UConn already lost four games off its schedule due to the Power Five conferences decided to go with conference-only schedules.
"As a team, we are in full support of the decision to not compete in 2020," the players said in a statement. We have many health concerns and not enough is known about the potential long term effects of contracting COVID-19... We love this game and love competing. We came to campus in the beginning of July knowing there would be challenges presented by the pandemic but it is apparent to us now that these challenges are impossible to overcome."
With the time off, the team will now have a chance to do everything they can to get back on the winning track. In the last three seasons, the Huskies have only won six games in Edsall's second run as head coach. Last year, UConn went 2-10 with their wins coming against Wagner and UMass.