The University of Connecticut athletics department today announced that its soccer program will cancel all competitions for the 2020-2021 school year.
“After receiving advice from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we have decided not to compete on the field this season,” athletics director David Benoit said. “The security challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk. ”
Team members will remain enrolled in courses, virtually or in person, as full-time students at UConn. Team members will also maintain access to facilities and support services in accordance with NCAA rules, ensuring that student-athletes stay on track academically and developmentally.
While the Huskies began spring training on February 4 and were one of the only teams in the country to complete a full spring program, opportunities to train and train as a team have been limited in recent months. The team has been on campus since early July and no student-athlete has tested positive for COVID-19.
This season’s games against Illinois, Indiana, Maine and Mississippi have already been taken off the schedule by those schools’ respective conferences and uncertainty surrounded the fights against North Carolina and Virginia.
“The measures needed to mitigate the risk of student football athletes contracting the coronavirus are not conducive to providing an optimal experience for our team,” said Benedict. “Ultimately, student-athletes prefer to keep their year of eligibility in order to compete in more typical circumstances during the 2021 season.”
Head Football Coach Randy Edsall Okay. “We have engaged and listened to the concerns of our student football athletes and we believe this is the best decision for their health, safety and well-being,” said Edsall. “Our team is united in this approach and we will use this time to further develop the players within the program and prepare for the 2021 season.”
The football student-athletes shared their thoughts in a statement. “As a team, we fully support the decision not to compete in 2020. We have many health issues and we don’t know enough about the potential long-term effects of the COVID contraction- 19. Also, we haven’t had the optimal time to train mentally and physically to be well prepared to compete this season. We love this game and love to compete. We came to campus in early July knowing that the pandemic would present challenges, but it is evident to us now that these challenges are impossible to overcome. ”
“I support this decision and know that it was taken in collaboration with and in the best interests of our football student-athletes,” said University President Thomas Katsouleas. These young men love to compete for UConn and our fans love to cheer them on. Saturdays. But the associated health risks are too great to overcome and I agree that this is the best course of action. ”
UConn Athletics will be reaching out to season ticket holders and supporters in the coming days to further explain the options and provide personalized solutions as needed, including full refunds on request. When it comes to the status of other fall sports, UConn will continue to work with BIG EAST to chart the best way forward.
“Amidst all the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic in recent months, our top priority has clearly been and always will be to ensure the health and well-being of our student-athletes, staff and supporters,” continued Benedict. “With that in mind, we concluded that this action was necessary. Obviously there are details that need to be addressed, but safety was at the forefront of our concerns when we made this decision and we know our fans share the same commitment. “