The Wisconsin Badgers will have a wait a little longer to continue their football season. On Tuesday, the school announced its upcoming game against Purdue has been canceled, and team activities are on hold due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases within the program. Last week, the Badgers canceled their game against Nebraska after the program had 12 positive tests. It then increased to 22 with 12 players and 10 staff members.
"I share in the disappointment of our student-athletes and staff," Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said as reported by ESPN. "We have seen a level of improvement in our testing numbers, but not enough to give us confidence to resume normal activities and play our game on Saturday. We will continue to test regularly, take the proper health-related precautions and look forward to getting our team back on the field as soon as possible." Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst tested positive for COVID-19 and could return to return on Thursday. Starting quarterback Graham Mertz also contracted the coronavirus. Currently, there are a total of 27 active cases in the program.
"I felt very confident — if we continued we were getting things under control. In the last three days, if I counted right, we had 11 positives in the program and just didn't feel as though we had our arms around it, had things as I thought we needed," Alvarez said. "Keeping your priorities in order, the health and safety of our student-athletes is top priority." Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski said the team was ready to play on Saturday, but health comes first.
"While we looked forward to our game this weekend against Wisconsin, we understand the Badgers' decision to cancel based on medical advice and their need to control any additional transmission of the virus within their team and staff," Bobinski stated. Wisconsin has played only one game this season, a 45-7 win over Illinois on Oct. 23. The team's next game is Nov. 14 against Michigan. After postponing the football season due to the pandemic, the Big Ten Conference decided to play this fall, and all teams would play an eight-game season. Wisconsin, will not make up the two canceled games, which means they will likely not play in the conference championship on Dec. 19.