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Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor becomes 3rd Big 12 team to postpone opener after La Tech outbreak

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WACO, Texas — Baylor became the third Big 12 team forced to postpone its scheduled season opener this weekend after Louisiana Tech reported multiple positive COVID-19 tests Tuesday, less than two weeks after a hurricane affected its campus.

Louisiana Tech athletic director Tommy McClelland said Tuesday night that it wasn’t possible for the Bulldogs to play Saturday at Baylor because of the positive tests and contact tracing that would keep other players out the game.

The school didn’t provide any specific numbers, but said there was a spike in cases in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27 that impacted the campus in Ruston, Louisiana, which is more than 200 miles inland. McClelland the school had only one positive case in the three weeks before the current outbreak, an indication that protocols in place were working.

“With 95% of our city losing power for days – even up to a week in many areas – our student-athletes were forced to find places to stay and some even had family from south Louisiana that came northward to stay with them,” McClelland said. “So many things that we were able to control for the month of August became out of our control, and I think the numbers prove that it took its toll.”

No makeup date was announced.

The Louisiana Tech-Baylor game is the 10th Division I game that has been postponed because of the novel coronavirus, including Big 12 games SMU at TCU and Tulsa at Oklahoma State. The other postponed games are: North Carolina State at Virginia Tech, Temple at Navy, ULM at Troy, Marshall at East Carolina, and three Rice games – against Houston, Marshall and UAB.

TCU had to put off its scheduled opener Friday night after a virus outbreak last week among a cluster of Horned Frogs players and support staff. Oklahoma State has pushed back its opener against Tulsa a week to Sept. 19 after the Golden Hurricane were limited during preseason camp because of multiple positive tests.

Seven Big 12 teams are still scheduled to play Saturday.

“We are incredibly disappointed to announce the postponement of our upcoming football game against Louisiana Tech,” Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said. “However, in the interest of the health and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff, we are confident in this unfortunate but necessary course of action. To the Baylor and Louisiana Tech student-athletes and communities, we share in your disappointment and look ahead to resuming play.”

The game was supposed to be the debut of new Baylor head coach Dave Aranda, the defensive coordinator last season for 15-0 national champion LSU. He replaced Matt Rhule, who was hired by the NFL’s Carolina Panthers after three seasons with the Bears.

TCU-SMU postponed by COVID-19 outbreak among Horned Frogs

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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FORT WORTH, Texas — TCU and SMU postponed their Sept. 11 game as TCU announced Friday a cluster of Horned Frogs players and team support staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

TCU did not identify who was infected with COVID-19 or how many players or staff are involved. Athletic director Jeremiah Donati said none currently faces serious health issues.

No makeup date for the game at TCU was immediately set.

The postponement came at nearly the same time the Big 12 formally announced 53-player minimum roster to play a game, game, including all scholarship and walk-on players. The league also set minimums for the number of available offensive linemen (seven), defensive linemen (four) and quarterbacks (one).

TCU schools officials this week reported more than 400 active COVID-19 cases for the campus two weeks into the fall semester. Among those, nearly 250 were students were living on campus.

Donati aid the TCU football program was aggressive in its testing and contact tracing protocols, and would “continue our enforcement of strict standards to protect the program and our community. Everyone’s health and safety remains our top priority.”

Donati said the schools will try to reschedule at a later date, although they may be few options. TCU is scheduled to play its Big 12 opener Sept. 26 against Iowa State. SMU plays Saturday at Texas State.

SMU athletic director Rick Hart tweeted the Mustangs were disappointed the game won’t be played as originally scheduled.

“Our student-athletes, coaches and fans were looking forward to the 100th edition of the Iron Skillet Rivalry. We are excited to start the season tomorrow at Texas State,” Hart said.

The TCU-SMU game is just the latest one affected by the pandemic. The North Carolina State at Virginia Tech game in the ACC was moved from Sept. 12 to Sept. 26 and Marshall and East Carolina postponed their Sept. 12 but no makeup game has been set.

The Big 12, the ACC and the Southeastern Conference are the only three Power Five conferences that opted to try to play in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Big Ten and Pac-12, as well as virtually every other lower-level conference, have put off fall sports and are instead hoping to play in the spring.