LAFAYETTE — COVID-19 is temporarily shutting down Ragin’ Cajun athletics.
After spending much of the fall season avoiding the cancellation of games due to the pandemic, the University of Louisiana athletic department was hit hard by the global virus on Wednesday.
The No. 24-ranked football team was forced to cancel its home finale against Central Arkansas due to positive COVID-19 tests and contract tracing within the program. A total of 33 student-athletes are in the program’s COVID-19 safety protocol which includes isolation, quarantine and recovery.
“We are disappointed we will be unable to play Central Arkansas on Saturday,” said Director of Athletics Bryan Maggard. “We knew this season was going to require a lot of patience and flexibility and disruptions were likely to occur. The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff is always the primary focus.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns football team had minor issues with having players miss games due to COVID-19 issues earlier in the season, including having a few players sidelined for the game at Georgia State and then nearly 10 players missing the game against Georgia Southern at Cajun Field.
COVID-19 cases though have been steadily rising since Halloween. The university’s COVID-19 dashboard states that for the week of Nov. 15th, that there were 55 total positive tests on campus. That prompted the decision by the university to not have the marching band perform at the final two home games.
Now the cancellation has gone from those providing music at the games to those providing highlight plays.
“We appreciate our tremendous medical staff and athletic trainers working closely with our football program in order to best navigate this situation,” Ragin’ Cajuns head coach Billy Napier said. “There has been an unfortunate uptick in coronavirus cases around the country, especially in football programs, and now more than ever, we must remain committed to being safe, following proper protocols and mitigating further spread of the virus.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns (7-1, 5-1 Sun Belt) did not hold practice on Tuesday and are scheduled to resume normal operations on Saturday. The next game on the schedule is on Saturday, Nov. 28 at ULL who had their game against Louisiana Tech this week also canceled due to COVID. If the contest with ULM can not be played on Nov. 28, Maggard said that the game could be rescheduled for Dec. 12.
The football program wasn’t the only team in the athletic department that was forced to cancel games on Wednesday.
Due to positive tests and contact tracing within the program, the Ragin’ Cajuns women’s basketball team has scrapped its first two games of the upcoming season. UL was set to open the season against New Orleans on Wednesday, Nov. 25th and then hosted Loyola (New Orleans) on Nov. 30th -- both at the Cajundome.
The women’s team is scheduled to now open the 2020-21 season against North Texas on Friday, Dec. 4th at the Cajundome.
The UL men’s basketball program also had to cancel its season opener against Xavier of New Orleans. The game — which was set for Wednesday, Nov. 25th, had to be canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Xavier program. The men are slated to now tip off the season against Loyola (New Orleans) on Saturday, Nov. 28 at the Cajundome.