Morry Gash/Associated Press
Wisconsin announced its game Saturday against Purdue is canceled as the program continues to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak.
The Badgers had to cancel their Oct. 31 clash with Nebraska for the same reason.
Athletic director Barry Alvarez released a statement regarding the matter:
“I share in the disappointment of our student-athletes and staff. We have seen a level of improvement in our testing numbers, but not enough to give us confidence to resume normal activities and play our game on Saturday. We will continue to test regularly, take the proper health-related precautions and look forward to getting our team back on the field as soon as possible.”
He further discussed the cancellation later on Tuesday, noting the program had recorded 11 positive tests over the span of three days:
Purdue AD Mike Bobinski also addressed the situation in a statement:
“While we looked forward to our game this weekend against Wisconsin, we understand the Badgers’ decision to cancel based on medical advice and their need to control any additional transmission of the virus within their team and staff. The health, well-being and safety of all student-athletes, coaches and staff remains the top priority for the entire Big Ten and will continue to guide decision-making.”
Having initially canceled the fall football season, the Big Ten announced in September it would go through with an eight-game conference-only schedule.
“The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) adopted significant medical protocols including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition,” the conference said.
Wisconsin’s circumstances illustrate how tenuous the situation remains despite those more stringent protocols.
A Big Ten student-athlete who tests positive can’t play for at least 21 days. One positive test can potentially keep a player out for more than a third of the season. Have multiple players test positive and the problem becomes obvious.
As part of its COVID-19 protocols, the Big Ten requires teams to stop practice for at least seven days when they have a positivity rate of more than 5 percent over a seven-day rolling average. Simply returning to practice is a challenge for Wisconsin.
The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel noted the Badgers can still win the Big Ten West division as long as they play six games this season. The team can hit that threshold by playing the remainder of its schedule.
The extent to which the outbreak has spread raises doubt over whether Wisconsin’s Nov. 14 matchup with No. 23 Michigan is in jeopardy as well.