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COVID-19 issues at Virginia Tech force postponement of Tech-UVA Sept. 19 season opener

commonwealth clashThe Virginia-Virginia Tech Sept. 19 season opener has been postponed at the request of officials of Virginia Tech.

A press release from Tech cited the reason for the move being “COVID-19 issues at Virginia Tech,” without elaborating any specifics on what the issues might be.

“The safety, as well as the physical and mental well-being of these young men and women entrusted to our care by their families remains our top priority,” Virginia Tech Athletics Director Whit Babcock said.

Virginia Tech has not released publicly data from its COVID-19 testing of student-athletes all preseason, so it’s not known if the “COVID-19 issues” are specific to athletics or more generally to the general student population at the school.

The school has reported 633 COVID-19 positive tests from among 12,728 tests administered to students and employees since Aug. 3, with 219 of the positives coming in the past seven days.

UVA Athletics has made it a point to report testing numbers from its student-athlete population. Late Friday, the program announced data from its last preseason testing. Since July 5, 14 student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 from among 2,164 tests administered.

None of the 14 student-athletes who tested positive required hospitalization.

The football team has not reported a positive case since July 24.

The school overall has reported 321 positive COVID-19 tests among students and employees since Aug. 21, including 90 new positives in the past week.

“These are very challenging times. We understand and respect the decision by Virginia Tech,” UVA Athletics Director Carla Williams said. “With so much uncertainty, flexibility in scheduling becomes incredibly important. I know both teams and both fan bases were looking forward to opening the season next weekend. We’ll work with the conference and Virginia Tech to reschedule.”

It would appear that the only possible date that would work would be the weekend of Dec. 12, given the open dates on the schedule for the two.

Virginia Tech had been slated to open its season this weekend with a game against N.C. State, but that game was rescheduled to Sept. 26 at the request of N.C. State.

UVA had been scheduled to open this week against VMI, but that game was scuttled when the Southern Conference, of which VMI is a member, moved its football season to the spring of 2021.

Because Virginia has an open date on Sept. 26, it will now have to wait to open its season on Oct. 3 at Clemson.

Virginia Tech, meanwhile, will pause its football practices for four days, according to the release from the school, and for now, at least, the Sept. 26 game with N.C. State is still a go.

“My primary concern continues to be the well-being of the student-athletes on our football team,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “I hurt for them because I know how badly they want to compete. I also appreciate that these young men have been dealing with the same stress, uncertainty and anxiety as their fellow Virginia Tech students over the past few months as their spring semester was dramatically altered. Then they were forced to find a way to train on their own, and to their credit, they found a way to get it done.

“So many individuals worked so tirelessly to give us an opportunity to get back on campus to train and to get back on the practice field. To all of those individuals who continue to go the extra mile for our student-athletes, I’m extremely grateful. I appreciate how many people at Virginia Tech are so deeply invested in the success of our football team and our young men,” Fuente said.

Story by Chris Graham

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