Start of football practices delayed
Rice football announced that they would delay the start of their preseason practices in a press release today, due to concerns regarding the infection rate of the coronavirus in Houston.
“Our top priority is the safety of our community,” Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard said in a statement. “The very low rates of infection among our campus community are the result of a communal effort and one that requires continued vigilance and dedication. At the same time, we will continue to explore options to allow a football season to happen in 2020.”
School officials have said that more rapid and reliable testing may become available in the near future, and they will work the Conference USA on any necessary schedule adjustments.
“As much as our team wants to get on the field and start their season, we all understand the larger issues involved,” head coach Mike Bloomgren said.
Bloomgren and his players have all expressed that while they are thankful for the care with which Rice is treating the situation, they are also ready to get back on the field.
“I'm thankful to be a part of a university that prioritizes the health and well-being of the campus as well as its student-athletes, while still giving us the chance to move forward and play the game we love and to compete for a conference title," senior and team captain Austin Trammell said.
The Owls were scheduled to start their season on Oct. 3 in West Virginia against Marshall University. Whether or not that happens, is now up to C-USA. According to Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations Chuck Pool, there is no definitive answer on when the season will start.
“Conference USA will take a look at the situation, and it will be up to them whether or not the impacted game(s) are rescheduled or canceled,” Pool said.
For now, the school is investigating new rapid testing capabilities, as well as other measures to curtail the spread of the pandemic in a competitive athletic setting. A final decision on the start of practice will be made later in September.
“Mitigating the virus on our campus has been and will remain priority one,” Bloomgren said. “But there is also a commitment to trying to create a consistent scenario for football to be played this fall.”
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