The season-opening football game between Utah and Arizona, scheduled for Saturday, has been canceled after multiple Utes players tested positive for COVID-19, leaving the team without enough available scholarship players due to isolation and quarantine protocols for contact tracing.
It is the second cancellation ahead of the Pac-12's delayed opening weekend in as many days, following Thursday's announcement that Cal could not host Washington as several players, including an entire position group, were quarantined for contact tracing.
"The cancellation of this game, following yesterday's cancellation of the Washington at Cal football game, is of course incredibly disappointing to our student-athletes and our fans," the Pac-12 said in a statement. "At the same time it is an indication that our health and safety protocols are working in identifying positive cases and contact tracing cases. While all of us want to see our football student-athletes on the field competing, our number one priority must continue to be the health and safety of all those connected to the Pac-12 football programs."
The game will be deemed a no contest, per Pac-12 rules.
Utah did not release the total number of players who tested positive or were unavailable due to contact tracing. The group is in isolation, per athletic director Mark Harlan, who said the positive test results surfaced Friday morning.
"Coach (Kyle) Whittingham and I discussed this situation extensively, as well as with our medical advisors, and it was extremely clear that to go forward with the game would put our student-athletes at risk, and we simply will not take that risk," he said. "We immediately began a conversation with the Pac-12 office and Arizona Athletics Director Dave Heeke to make them aware of our situation and the resulting decision."
Whittingham called it the right decision.
"Our student-athletes' health and well-being is absolutely paramount and we will not put them at risk," he said. "Our team has worked extremely hard to get to this point, and we will continue to care for our students-athletes and follow all protocols very thoroughly as we prepare for next week's game (against UCLA)."
Heeke said similar: "I could not be more disappointed that our players, coaches and staff will be unable to experience game day, which they have prepared months for. With that said, health and safety must continue to be our guiding principles throughout these uncertain times. Our athletics department and football program will continue to move forward with those guiding principles at the forefront as we prepare to host USC next weekend."