With its move to the Big East for most sports, the UConn football program made the pretty bold jump to FBS Independence. Some called into question the feasibility of the program without a conference, but to the school’s credit, it built out a pretty attractive 2020 football schedule.
The Huskies were set to face the likes of Illinois, Virginia, Ole Miss, and North Carolina this year. Fellow independents UMass, Liberty, and Army were among those that rounded out the schedule. Unfortunately for football fans in Connecticut, the sport’s response to COVID-19 made fielding a schedule untenable for the Huskies.
The Power Five leagues have heavily cut down on the number of non-conference games they’re playing. The Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC are all playing conference-only schedules. The ACC and Big 12 are going with one non-conference game each.
Ultimately, not having those games, and the uncertainty of the rest of the schedule comprised of other independents and Group of Five schools, made the schedule untenable. This morning, UConn football announced that it will not play this season. It is the first FBS program to do so.
After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we've decided that @UConnFootball will not compete on the gridiron this season. https://t.co/R5dLlnFNo9
— UConn Huskies (@UConnHuskies) August 5, 2020
“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 director of athletics David Benedict announced, pinning things on the public health concerns. “The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.”
In the statement, the program will honor scholarships, and players will maintain the season of eligibility moving forward.
“The necessary measures needed to mitigate risk of football student-athletes contracting the coronavirus are not conducive to delivering an optimal experience for our team,” Benedict said. “Ultimately, the student-athletes would rather preserve their year of eligibility with an eye to competing under more typical circumstances during the 2021 season.”
A quote attributed to unnamed players supported the decision to cancel the upcoming UConn football season.