Just two weeks before it is scheduled to begin its season, Louisiana-Monroe has suspended all football activities due to nine positive COVID-19 tests within the program.
ULM is scheduled to play its opening game on the road against Troy on Sept. 5 — just 15 days away. ULM athletic director Scott McDonald said in a statement that “an increased exposure to COVID-19” was expected with campus reopening to the general student population ahead of the fall semester beginning. Classes began Aug. 17.
McDonald said the school is waiting on the latest round of COVID-19 testing and is hoping football activities can resume early next week. The school will also initiate contact tracing in an effort to “mitigate the spread of the virus.”
"We fully anticipated an increased exposure to COVID-19 with the reopening of campus, the beginning of the fall semester as well as uptick in related off-campus activities. We also knew that we would have to work to create a modified student-athlete bubble once classes and on-campus activities resumed this month,” McDonald said.
“We'll await the latest round of test results while continuing to monitor our quarantined and isolated student-athletes. We hope to safely resume football-related activities early next week."
ULM coach Matt Viator said he is disappointed, but the team is “optimistic” it will be able to play safely this fall.
“We're fully aware that we're managing a fluid situation, especially with the reopening of campus and the beginning of the fall semester,” Viator said. “While disappointed, we realized that the suspension of practice was a real possibility sometime this preseason. With the pause, our team remains optimistic that we'll be able to safely compete this fall.”
In a press release, ULM, a member of the Sun Belt, said it has administered 1,404 tests across all sports since mid-June with 34 total positives among athletes and staff members.
Earlier this month, the Sun Belt announced that its members would play eight-game conference schedules and could schedule up to four non-conference games. From there, ULM set up a 10-game schedule with Liberty (Oct. 10) and Louisiana Tech (Nov. 21) as its two non-conference games.
The Warhawks are coming off a 5-7 record in 2019, the fourth season with Viator as head coach. He is 19-29 overall with a 15-17 mark in Sun Belt play during that span.
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