USC managed to avoid any coronavirus-related issues for the first three weeks of its pandemic-shortened Pac-12 season. But the Trojans’ good fortunate ended this week and their showdown against Colorado on Saturday at the Coliseum was canceled Thursday.
“After consultation with USC, the Pac-12 Conference announced the game involving Colorado at USC … will not be played,” the conference said in a statement. “This decision was made under the Pac-12’s football policy due to USC not having the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game at a specific position group as a result of a number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols. The game will be declared a no contest.”
The position group is the offensive line, according to ESPN.
USC (3-0) announced earlier in the day that, in addition to two players who tested positive earlier in the week, a third was being tested because he had come down with possible COVID-19 symptoms. Practice was canceled and a virtual meeting was to be held instead.
Coach Clay Helton said Tuesday an unidentified player had tested positive and was symptomatic and quarantined. The player traveled with the Trojans for last Saturday’s game against Utah and contact tracing began in conjunction with medical authorities following his positive test.
Practice was canceled Tuesday.
Further testing revealed a second positive case, and that unnamed player and five others who had been identified through contact tracing were quarantined. The Trojans were cleared to resume practice Wednesday by medical officials, but then were forced from the practice field again Thursday.
“We are disappointed for our players and fans and those from Colorado that Saturday’s game will not be played, but the health and safety of everyone in both programs is of the utmost priority,” Helton said in a statement. “Our players have worked hard since the summer not only to prepare for this season, but to do so in a safe manner by following all health protocols. I applaud their discipline and sacrifice in doing so. We will continue to test and monitor our players, coaches and staff and take guidance from health officials as we prepare for our remaining games.”
USC has scheduled games against Washington State and UCLA remaining on its six-game schedule.
The Trojans-Buffaloes game was the third Pac-12 contest to be canceled this week because of the coronavirus concerns, following the Washington-Washington State and Utah-Arizona State games. Overall, nine Pac-12 games have been canceled in only four weeks of play.
The positive tests of USC players also puts the Trojans’ game Dec. 4 against Washington State at the Coliseum in jeopardy since Los Angeles County Health Department guidelines call for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to be quarantined for at least 14 days.
Additionally, this is Colorado’s second game in as many weeks that has been canceled, after their contest last Saturday against ASU was canceled. Instead of sitting idle for a second consecutive Saturday, the Buffaloes (2-0) reportedly will play host to San Diego State in a nonconference game.
San Diego State (3-2) had its scheduled Mountain West game Friday against Fresno State canceled because of coronavirus concerns at Fresno, one of at least 97 games called off or rescheduled this season, according to a list compiled by CBSsports.com.
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