The University of Massachusetts on Tuesday announced that it had cancelled its football season for the upcoming year.
Calling the decision “difficult,” athletic director Ryan Bamford said the decision was made to protect the safety of players, coaches and staff.
“The continuing challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic posed too great of a risk, and we reached the conclusion that attempting to play a season would not have placed the members of our program in the safest situation possible," he said in a statement.
Players will remain enrolled and continue to take classes either in-person or virtually, Bamford said.
"I am absolutely heartbroken for our players, our former players, our alumni and our UMass Football community," said head coach Walt Bell. “Our job as coaches and mentors is to provide opportunities for our players, and do everything in our power to not take them away. Today's news was devastating, but we will be resilient and prepared to be our best when our best is required.”
The school is not part of a conference and plays independently as part of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst earlier this month changed its fall reopening plan, less than three weeks before the start of the semester, announcing that students whose classwork is completely remote will no longer have the option of living on campus.
Additionally, the university is now urging that remote students stay home and don't move even to the Amherst area for the school year. Students taking classes that require being face-to-face, like laboratory or capstone courses, and others with particular living situations that require them to be on campus will still be allowed there, the school's chancellor said in an email sent to students and their families.
The announcement comes with some coronavirus metrics rising in Massachusetts, and as colleges and universities nationwide determine if it's safe to bring students back for the fall semester.
Under the original reopening plan, announced June 29, most of UMass Amherst's courses were set to be taught remotely, but students had the option to live on campus under certain restrictions.