UConn announced Wednesday it's canceling the 2020 football program.
"After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we've decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season," director of athletics David Benedict said. "The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk."
The Huskies, who were entering their first year as an independent, are the first FBS school to shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, per ESPN's Adam Rittenberg.
UConn's players backed the decision.
"As a team we are in full support of the decision to not compete in 2020. We have many health concerns and not enough is known about the potential long term effects of contracting COVID-19," they said in a statement. "Additionally, we have not had the optimal time to train mentally & physically to be properly prepared to compete this season. We love this game and love competing. We came to campus in the beginning of July knowing there would be challenges presented by the pandemic but it is apparent to us now that these challenges are impossible to overcome."
The school left the AAC for the Big East this offseason, but as its new conference doesn't play football at the FBS level, UConn was set to play in 2020 as an independent.
The team returned to campus for workouts in early July and no student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 since.
But with UConn's schedule uncertain after games against Illinois, Indiana, Maine, and Mississippi were wiped from their slate due to the Power 5 mostly opting to play within their own conferences, the team decided to focus on next year's campaign.
"We engaged and listened to the concerns of our football student-athletes and feel this is the best decision for their health, safety, and well-being," head coach Randy Edsall said. "Our team is united in this approach and we will use this time to further player development within the program and gear ourselves to the 2021 season."