Michigan canceled their game against Maryland this weekend. This was announced Wednesday after the Wolverines had made all football events virtual earlier in the week due to an increase of COVID-19 cases in the program.
The decision to leave the game and interrupt the training was taken after consultation with medical specialists, who will eventually decide when training will resume.
Michigan can’t return to the training field until Monday.
The decision of our medical professionals to stop training and cancel the game against Maryland on Saturday was taken because the health, safety and well-being of our athletes, coaches and student staff are our top priority, said Michigan Athletic Director Ward Manuel in a news release. Based on the latest results of our antigen and PCR tests, we have seen an increase in the number of student athletes who are unable to participate due to positive results and the associated follow-up contacts.
The game against Maryland was Michigan’s last scheduled home game. With losses in all three of this season’s home games, Michigan (2-4) failed to achieve at least one home win for the first time in the program’s history.
Manuel said that he did not know if the game against Ohio would be played next week, since the program is still waiting for the results of more than 100 tests carried out this week.
We hope to play just about every game this year, Manuel says. In our league, which has stopped so far, the intention was to play every game this year. Too bad we can’t play in Maryland. We hope to play in Ohio and end the season last week.
If the match is cancelled next weekend, the state of Ohio will be ranked for the minimum number of matches needed for the Big Ten to participate in the conference championship. An exception is made when the average number of matches played by each team during the congress falls below six, in which case the Buckeyes qualify.
Prior to the announcement, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstright said in a review of the college football playoffs that he wouldn’t be surprised if Michigan dropped the white flag and didn’t play Ohio, suggesting that the Wolverines wouldn’t play the game on goal. Herbstreit has since apologized for that statement, but Manuel says any suggestion that Michigan will intentionally withdraw from the game for any reason other than the health and safety of student athletes is ridiculous.
Manuel said he was angry about that statement and said that the Wolverines won the program at the football university because they always played who was in front of them.
To insinuate it, to say something other than that is a stupid statement, Manuel said. I can’t tell you how ashamed I am of the Big Ten conference that one of the representatives who played this game said about every team at that conference. And it’s ridiculous and sad to talk about college football and student athletes all over the country trying to play during the pandemic.
Any changes to the Big Ten policy regarding the minimum number of matches or tie-breaking must be implemented by the 14 team managers, who must approve the changes as a last resort.
Manuel said he talked to head coach Jim Harbau about the decision. Harbau was disappointed, but understood why the cancellation was done.
These sports students want to play. It was an opportunity to take a break, and we all understand that, Manuel said. But they’re disappointed because they’ve worked so hard to get here this season. And no one wanted to stop like that. The communication with my colleagues around the conference and with the nation that was forced to participate is the same.
You can’t really blame the sports students, the staff or those involved. That is exactly what everyone in this country has to deal with, and it happens to be this week, and we have to deal with that.
Maryland is training again this week and is preparing for the match against Rutgers on the 12th. December.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.