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Sunday April 2nd

Despite transition to online classes, UNC stays course to play football in the fall

<p>UNC Football team practices in Koman Practice Complex on Friday, Aug. 6, 2020. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications.</p>
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UNC Football team practices in Koman Practice Complex on Friday, Aug. 6, 2020. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications.

The UNC Department of Athletics said in a statement that it currently intends to have its fall athletics season, after it was announced Monday that the University would transition to all online classes. 

"Our student-athletes will continue to attend online classes, and may choose to remain in their current on- and off-campus residences. Workouts and practices will continue under the standards set by our University, health officials and department," a spokesperson for the athletics department said. 

"We still are expecting to play this fall, and we will continue to evaluate the situation in coordination with the University, the ACC, state and local officials, and health officials. The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, and community remains our priority." 

The ACC has not yet followed in the footsteps of the Big Ten and PAC-12 conferences, which announced last week they would be postponing their football seasons with hopes of playing in the spring. UNC is just one of 15 schools that make up the ACC football conference this season, after the inclusion of Notre Dame. 

The ACC had previously announced that the football schedule would be moving to a "10 plus one" schedule, meaning 10 conference games and one nonconference game of the schools' choosing that had to be played in the schools' home state. The schedule for fall olympic sports, including men's and women's soccer, field hockey and volleyball, has been shortened to either six or 10 conference games depending on the sport, with the possibility of scheduling nonconference games as well. 

During the UNC Faculty Executive Committee meeting on Monday, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said any decision on the fall football season would be made in cooperation with those other 14 schools.

"We are about to meet with the sports medical advisory committee that we heard from the chair of that committee just last week, the ACC presidents did," Guskiewicz said. "We have decided to wait awhile to make any decisions regarding this. As you know, there are 15 universities within the ACC, and those decisions will be made by that collective body, along with the ACC commissioner and obviously the health and safety of the student-athletes at the forefront." 

UNC's decision to move to online-classes followed the COVID-19 positivity rate rising from 2.8 percent to 13.6 percent in the past week. Four clusters — defined as at least five positive cases in the same area — were announced in the past four days, and UNC's COVID-19 dashboard shows that the University currently has a total of 135 confirmed positive cases in the past week. 

UNC Athletics last announced on July 8 that the department had 37 positive cases from athletes, coaches and staff in the department. Since then, no information separating the number of positive tests within the athletics department from positive tests on campus as a whole has been provided. 

UNC football coach Mack Brown said on Aug. 11 that the football team had not had a positive test in over a month. 


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