Virginia Tech Punts on Opener, Postpones UVA amidst COVID Scare

 

Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia (UVA) announced Saturday they are postponing the first game of the season because of COVID-19 issues at Virginia Tech.

The game, otherwise known as the Commonwealth Cup, was slated to be played September 19, in Blacksburg.

“The safety, as well as the physical and mental well-being of these young men and women entrusted to our care by their families remains our top priority,” Said Whit Babcock, director of athletics at Virginia Tech, in a statement. “While we share the disappointment of everyone who hoped to begin the football season against our in-state rival, we remain optimistic that a full ACC football schedule can be played thanks to the flexibility the present format permits.

“We appreciate the continued support of President Sands for our student-athletes and Tech Athletics as we navigate these unprecedented times.”

The decision to postpone the game came after athletics officials from both schools, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Dr. Mark Rodgers, Virginia Tech athletics chief medical officer, discussed and mutually agreed to moving the contest to a future date.

In UVA’s statement announcing the news, director of athletics Carla Williams said she was contacted by Virginia Tech officials on Friday about the possibility of postponing.

“These are very challenging times, we understand and respect the decision by Virginia Tech,” Williams said. “With so much uncertainty, flexibility in scheduling becomes incredibly important. I know both teams and both fan bases were looking forward to opening the season next weekend. We’ll work with the conference and Virginia Tech to reschedule.”

In light of the COVID-19 issues at Virginia Tech, the football team is pausing its practices for four days, according to the online statement.

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente reiterated his support for student-athletes safety during COVID in a statement.

“My primary concern continues to be the well-being of the student-athletes on our football team,” Fuente said. “I hurt for them because I know how badly they want to compete. I also appreciate that these young men have been dealing with the same stress, uncertainty and anxiety as their fellow Virginia Tech students over the past few months as their spring semester was dramatically altered. Then they were forced to find a way to train on their own, and to their credit, they found a way to get it done.”

On Thursday, the most recent day recorded, Virginia Tech health center conducted 171 tests, 39 of those being positive, bringing the total positive tests in the last seven days to 219, according to the Virginia Tech COVID-19 dashboard.

There is no way to determine from the school’s dashboard if any of the positive cases were student-athletes or, specifically, football players.

In Montgomery County, where Virginia Tech is located, cases have been rising throughout the week with 71 cases on Friday and then 130 cases on Saturday, the second-highest amount recorded since March 18th, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) COVID-19 Dashboard.

Additionally, there were no deaths this week and two hospitalizations on Saturday in Montgomery County, the VDH dashboard reported.

So far Virginia Tech has had to move both of its season openers. The Hokies were originally supposed to start the season against North Carolina State University (NC State) on September 12, but that game was moved after NC State had 22 positive cases on its sports teams.

Now, Virginia Tech will again play NC State to kick off its season, this time on September 26.

Virginia will now open its season against Duke on September 26th, a game originally scheduled for November 14.

With so much movement and changes happening almost weekly to the ACC schedule, there is currently no set rescheduled date for the Virginia Tech-UVA rivalry game.

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Jacob Taylor is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Follow Jacob on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Lane Stadium” by B. CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

 

 

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