The season opener scheduled for Saturday between California and Washington was canceled following a request from the Golden Bears due to a positive coronavirus test for one of their players.
The cancellation was a big blow for the Pac-12 as the conference prepares to kick off a seven-game football slate after league programs had watched other teams around the country playing for weeks.
California doesn’t have the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game as a result of the positive test and the need for other players to isolate under contact tracing protocols, the Pac-12 said in a statement Thursday.
Pac-12 guidelines require at least 53 scholarship players to be available for a game to be played. The conference said the game would be declared a no-contest.
“It is very disappointing that we will not be opening our 2020 season this Saturday night against Washington,” Cal coach Justin Wilcox said. “My heart goes out first and foremost to all of our players who have been through so much since the pandemic began and worked so hard under difficult circumstances to prepare themselves to play. They have done so well following the protocols that have been put in place, but as we are finding out first-hand, playing football during 2020 is a fragile situation.”
About an hour before the announcement from the conference, Washington coach Jimmy Lake said his team was still preparing as if the game would be played.
“Our students, coaches and staff have put in an incredible amount of hard work to get to this point and we are deeply disappointed they won’t have the opportunity to compete Saturday in Berkeley,” Washington athletic director Jennifer Cohen said in a statement.
Wilcox had said Wednesday night that the game was in jeopardy because of the large number of players needing contact tracing. The school said the player with a positive test is asymptomatic. He took his regular daily antigen test and then a supplemental PCR test, which also showed a positive result. This marked the first positive test on Cal’s football team since practices began last month.