The bubble has burst.
BYU football, which had been trying to keep its players in as much of a bubble environment as possible, wasn’t able to prevent “a small number” of players from testing positive for COVID-19, resulting in the upcoming Army game being postponed, BYU announced on Saturday.
“We appreciate the university administration, state health officials and a variety of medical experts who have helped us navigate these unprecedented times,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. “While we share the disappointment of everyone involved in the game between BYU and Army, safety as well as the physical and mental well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and the opposing team is our top priority.”
BYU and Army will work together to try to reschedule the game, which was planned for Sept. 19 at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y.
The Cougars will conduct small-group workouts next week until players and staff are cleared to resume full-team practices.
The sudden change is the latest in a schedule that has been completely redone. BYU lost 10 of its originally scheduled opponents, including six Power Five teams, due to the pandemic, but was able to put together an eight-game slate.
Through the uncertainty, the team continued working out and practicing. As classes started back up, the Cougars continued pushing through and kicked off their season Labor Day at Navy, in a dominating 55-3 winning performance.
But as the football team seemingly continued unscathed, the BYU campus struggled with keeping the coronavirus at bay.
Since the start of the fall semester, BYU has reported 258 cases, 218 of which are still active, as of Friday. After the first week of classes, BYU reported 117 cases. The second week saw 141 more.
BYU has served as a main contributor to the daily case numbers being reported out of Utah County, which is seeing a spike in cases. BYU students have been criticized for off-campus behaviors.
Students have been seen participating in parties and pop-up clubs, without wearing masks in situations that don’t allow for social distancing.
Of the 572 new cases reported Saturday by the Utah Department of Health, 205 cases belong to Utah County.
The Cougars, who have been fighting for months for a 2020 season, get tested three times a week.
The team most recently traveled to Maryland, where state precautions forced BYU and Navy to play in an empty stadium, and returned back to campus Tuesday.
The Cougars are set to open at home Sept. 26 against Troy and host UTSA on Oct. 10 before traveling to Texas to play Houston Oct. 16.
BYU would wrap up the season with a three-game home stint against Texas State (Oct. 24), Western Kentucky (Oct. 31) and North Alabama (Nov. 21).
The Cougars could reschedule Army sometime in November, with multiple weeks available that month, but the Black Knights only have the weekend of Nov. 29 possibly available.