Saturday’s football game between Auburn and Mississippi State has been postponed because of COVID-19 issues within the Bulldogs’ program.
“Based on positive tests and those considered as close contacts, along with non-COVID injuries, we do not have the minimum number of scholarship student-athletes available for Saturday’s game against Auburn,” MSU director of athletics John Cohen said in a statement. “While we are disappointed that Saturday’s game has been postponed, our priority is the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and staff. We will continue to follow all established protocols and evaluate the most responsible path to return to the field.”
The SEC released a statement Monday saying that the game would be tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12.
“The Auburn at Mississippi State football game of November 14 has been postponed due to positive tests and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Mississippi State football program, consistent with Southeastern Conference COVID-19 management requirements,” the statement read.
The SEC has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 testing this week, as Texas A&M had to shut down practice after receiving multiple positive tests. LSU‘s game against Alabama is in jeopardy after LSU received multiple positive tests over the weekend, including starters on offense, defense and special teams.
“We’re going to keep moving forward,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Monday. “We don’t get to just throw up our hands and not stop trying, but we’ll have to come together depending on how much disruption occurs and we’ll have to react to it. It’s hard to predict. It’s one of the lessons from the last few months.”
The SEC previously set a minimum threshold of 53 available scholarship athletes in order to compete.
Players who test positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for 10 days. Players who are considered high-risk because of contact with a suspected positive must quarantine for 14 days.
Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said the SEC should open the possibility of allowing makeup games on Dec. 19 for any teams not playing in the conference championship game.
He said the conference athletic directors could discuss the possibility at their weekly Tuesday meeting.
“We anticipated all this; that’s why the protocols are in place,” Bjork said. “That’s why we built in the extra week. Hopefully we can create some more flexibility by looking at the 19th.”
In order for games to be played Dec. 19, athletic directors would have to agree to the schedule addition and then university presidents/chancellors would have to approve it. Sankey said that will be part of their conversations going forward.
“We want people to want to have that opportunity to play, so that’s certainly a part of our conversation,” he said. “We obviously have to adjust to be able to name division champions in advance of our game, so that will be a priority for us.”
Information from ESPN’s Heather Dinich was used in this report.