Covid-19 has gotten its teeth into the Florida Gator football program.
The SEC on Wednesday announced the postponement of Saturday’s game with visiting league rival Louisiana State University (LSU), citing “positive tests & subsequent quarantine of individuals within the Florida FB program.”
The development comes amid news that Florida has put all football activities on hold following a coronavirus outbreak.
Nineteen football players have tested positive for Covid-19, a University of Florida athletics spokesman has told CNN on Tuesday. This was first reported by The Independent Florida Alligator.
“The University of Florida football team has experienced an increase in positive COVID tests among players this week,” Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said in a statement on Tuesday. “Out of an abundance of caution, team activities are paused as of Tuesday afternoon.”
The Gators are 2-1 overall, and fell to number 10 in the Associated Press poll following last Saturday’s loss at SEC foe Texas A&M.
Prior to the school canceling football activities, Gators head coach Dan Mullen had been advocating for an increase in fan attendance at the team’s home games.
“I know our governor (Gov. Ron DeSantis) passed that rule, so certainly, hopefully, the UF administration decides to let us pack The Swamp against LSU — 100% — because that crowd was certainly a factor in the game,” Mullen said following the team’s loss in College Station, Texas.
Each state has its own Covid-19 attendance protocols, and in Texas, venues are supposed to be at no more than 25% capacity. Many felt the Aggies appeared to exceed that limit in the win over Florida.
On the heels of Florida’s Covid-19 outbreak, Texas A&M says it’s evaluating its team and taking appropriate measures.
“We have been in touch with officials at the University of Florida and have also reviewed the available [contact tracing data] data,” Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said in a statement. “At this point, there has been no impact within our football program, but we will continue our regular testing regiment this week and stay diligent with all of our safety protocols.”
To date, Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher reports no positive tests, and the team will be tested again on Thursday ahead of Saturday afternoon’s game at Mississippi State.
Florida, meanwhile, joins Baylor as top-tier college football programs currently on pause due to coronavirus cases.
The UF-LSU game has been tentatively rescheduled for December 12 in Gainesville, Florida, and now becomes the second SEC game to be either rescheduled or canceled due to Covid-19.
On Tuesday, Vanderbilt and Missouri became the league’s first teams forced to modify their schedule, as their Saturday meeting has been postponed following positive coronavirus tests, and subsequent quarantining, at Vandy.