NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — On a day that may see the end of college football in the fall of 2020, the Sportswrap has learned that Old Dominion University has canceled all fall sports, including football, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We concluded that the season – including travel and competition – posed too great a risk for our student-athletes,” said ODU President John Broderick. “I know many on and off campus will be disappointed, but we must prioritize the health and safety of our student-athletes, as well as our coaches, staff and fans.”
Athletic Director Wood Selig hopes fall sports can be played in the spring.
“This is just right thing to do for everyone involved,” Selig said. “After making this decision, I already feel a sense of relief … We’re not like the NBA. We can’t put our athletes and coaches and fans in a bubble, and we don’t have unlimited resources.”
In a statement, new ODU head coach Rick Rahne says his heart aches for his players, but he’s “extremely optimistic” about the future of the program.
“From the moment our staff was hired, this group of players has been fully invested,” Rahne said. “I know how diligent each of them has worked in order to have a successful fall season. However, their health and safety is at the utmost importance, and I support the decision that President Broderick and the Board of Visitors have made because I am confident that it was made with empathy, acuity and care.”
The decision comes as the Big Ten Conference, which features Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, decided to cancel its 2020 fall football season, per the Detroit Free Press.
The Mid-American Conference on Saturday was the first FBS football conference to cancel its 2020 fall season. The University of Connecticut, an independent team, was the first FBS team to cancel its season.
James Madison University, a former Colonial Athletic Association rival of ODU, was trying to play an independent schedule this fall but announced Friday it would postpone football to the spring of 2021.
ODU’s football conference, Conference USA, has yet to make an announcement in response to ODU’s decision. It approved a 2020 schedule that included eight conference games and up to four nonconference games on Friday. In addition to its conference schedule, ODU was set to play Wake Forest from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
ODU is expected to reopen for classes on August 29, with in-person, online and hybrid courses. Reopening was pushed back due to Norfolk seeing a surge in new COVID-19 cases over the past month, with many days of 100 or more new cases reported. Its percent of positive tests remains over 10%.
As of Monday, Norfolk has had 3,703 cumulative COVID-19 cases, 195 hospitalizations and 32 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
This is a breaking article. WAVY’s Sportswrap team will have more on the announcement, including what it means for the future of ODU’s athletic department, coming up later today.