Utah suspends the remainder of spring football practice
(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Edward Vander (35) runs the ball, as Alassne Niang defends,in Utah's spring Red-White game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Saturday, April 13, 2019.
Amidst COVID-19 concerns this week, the one remaining athletics domino at the University of Utah fell on Friday afternoon.
The school announced an indefinite suspension for all team practices and organized athletic activities. That includes spring practice for the football team, which began on March 2 and was set to start again on Tuesday once students returned from spring break. Tuesday would have marked the fourth of 15 spring practices.
Utah did not directly cancel the annual Red-White Spring Game on April 11, but it would seem hard to pull that off in the wake of practices being suspended.
Utah’s Friday’s announcement falls in line with Thursday’s announcement from the Pac-12 canceling all sports competitions and championships.
“We understand the seriousness of this worldwide pandemic and support every measure being taken in the interests of public health and safety,” Utah Director of Athletics Mark Harlan said in a statement. “I also want to acknowledge the extreme disappointment our student-athletes are experiencing as they adjust to the finality of this on so many levels. We will continue to support them in every way while giving them the freedom to make the safest and healthiest decisions for them.”
All college football programs are in a similar spot as Utah with COVIDA-19 dictating things, but it is worth noting that the Utes will now have to wait, presumably until training camp, to fill holes at various spots on the field.
Namely, a quarterback competition between South Carolina graduate transfer Jake Bentley and redshirt sophomore Cameron Rising was just underway. Furthermore, questions marks at running back, linebacker and all over the secondary were to dominate storylines between now at the Red-White Game.
One valid question among many in this situation is, will college football programs canceling spring practice be allowed to recoup this lost practice time? Utah opens the 2020 season on Sept. 3 against BYU, with training camp set to begin in early-August. The exact start date is TBD.