Another Wisconsin game canceled due to COVID-19 outbreak in program

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A second Wisconsin football game has been canceled.

The university announced Tuesday that its game against Purdue, scheduled for Saturday, has been called off due to the COVID-19 issues in the Wisconsin football program. It is the second straight week that Wisconsin will not play. UW’s game at Nebraska, scheduled for Oct. 31, was also canceled. Both games have been declared no-contests.

Wisconsin said it has recorded five new positive COVID-19 cases — two staff members and three athletes — since Oct. 31. Overall, Wisconsin has 27 active cases, all of which were recorded since Oct. 24, the day after it beat Illinois in its season opener. Of the 27 cases, 15 involve football players while the other 12 are staff members.

Wisconsin’s team-related activities remain paused indefinitely.

"I share in the disappointment of our student-athletes and staff," Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said. "We have seen a level of improvement in our testing numbers, but not enough to give us confidence to resume normal activities and play our game on Saturday. We will continue to test regularly, take the proper health-related precautions and look forward to getting our team back on the field as soon as possible."

UW first paused its football activities on Oct. 28, resulting in the cancellation of the Nebraska game. Badgers head coach Paul Chryst was among those who tested positive.

The cancellation of the Purdue game means Wisconsin has just five games remaining on its schedule. Those five, plus the Illinois game, mean Wisconsin is still eligible for the Big Ten title. But if UW loses another game from its schedule, it will be ineligible for the conference title due to the conference’s six-game minimum requirement for 2020.

Camp Randall Stadium, home of the Wisconsin Badgers, is seen Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Madison, Wis. Less than five weeks after pushing NCAA college football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Wisconsin has now lost two games due to a COVID-19 outbreak among its football program. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

According to the Big Ten’s COVID-19 protocols, a team has to stop practice and competition for a minimum of seven days if its player positivity rate is greater than 5 percent over a seven-day rolling average or its population positivity rate — that includes all staffers within a program — is greater than 7.5 percent.

Wisconsin, like all Big Ten programs, conducts daily antigen testing for COVID-19 for athletes, coaches and staff. Any individual who tests positive on the antigen test is removed from team activities and is then required to follow up with a PCR test for confirmation.

Any player that is confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 is required to miss a minimum of 21 days and undergo “comprehensive cardiac testing.”

“Following cardiac evaluation, student-athletes must receive clearance from a cardiologist designated by the university for the primary purpose of cardiac clearance for COVID-19 positive student-athletes,” the Big Ten’s policy states. “The earliest a student-athlete can return to game competition is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive diagnosis.”

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