Florida has suspended all football activities after multiple members of the team tested positive for the coronavirus.
Florida said Tuesday that five players tested positive for COVID-19. Tuesday afternoon, athletic director Scott Stricklin said that the team would stop workouts and practices due to contact tracing for those positive tests.
“The University of Florida football team has experienced an increase in positive COVID tests among players this week. Out of an abundance of caution, team activities are paused as of Tuesday afternoon,” Stricklin said.
“Head coach Dan Mullen has been in communication with football players and their parents, and I have had conversations with the Southeastern Conference office, last week’s opponent, Texas A&M, and this week’s opponent, LSU,” Stricklin said in a statement.
Vanderbilt’s Saturday game at Missouri was postponed on Monday because of positive coronavirus tests among Commodores players. That was the first SEC game to be postponed due to COVID-19. It will be played on Dec. 12.
Florida and LSU are set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN in the network’s marquee game of the day. If it’s postponed, it will likely also get moved to Dec. 12.
Monday, Mullen said his team and program had been a “model of safety” for how they were handling the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think we’re a model of safety of what we’ve been doing during this time period,” Mullen said. “So I’m really proud of how we’ve handled everything and how safe we’ve been with everything we’re doing and all the precautions we’ve had in place during this time.”
Florida joins Baylor as FBS teams that are currently not practicing because of the coronavirus. Baylor’s workouts are paused after 28 players currently have the coronavirus. The Bears’ Saturday home game against No. 7 Oklahoma State was postponed on Sunday night. It will also be played on Dec. 12.
Mullen’s desire for a full stadium in a pandemic
The news of Florida’s increase in positive tests among football players comes on the heels of Mullen’s desire to have a full stadium for Saturday’s game against LSU. Florida has been allowing a limited capacity at home games, and Gov. Ron DeSantis recently gave teams in the state the green light to have full-capacity stadiums if they wanted.
Mullen seized on DeSantis’ clearance after his team lost to Texas A&M on Saturday and confirmed again on Monday that he would like a full stadium as soon as possible.
“I know our governor passed that rule, so certainly, hopefully the university administration decides to let us pack the Swamp against LSU,” Mullen said after Saturday’s loss. “I certainly hope our university administration follows the governor. The governor has passed a rule that we’re allowed to pack the Swamp and have 90,000 in the Swamp to give us the home-field advantage Texas A&M had today.”
Florida, meanwhile, has said that it has no plans to expand capacity at home games. A&M was not at full capacity for its game against Florida.
UF remains fully and firmly committed to following CDC guidelines (https://t.co/xWvCfZxucp) for every part of our campus from classrooms to athletic venues as well as the guidance (https://t.co/NdKCumo9VZ) of our own experts at @UFHealth and local and state health officials.— W. Kent Fuchs (@PresidentFuchs) October 11, 2020
The loss to the Aggies was Florida’s first of the season. The No. 10 Gators head into their annual rivalry game with LSU as a significant favorite as LSU has started the season 1-2.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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