UConn Opts Out Of Football In '20, First Year Of Independence
UConn officially canceled its football season, as its schedule was already "eroded after several canceled games and the ongoing concerns related to coronavirus," according to sources cited by Brechlin & Anthony of the HARTFORD COURANT. This season was set to be the first for the school as an independent program. While UConn AD David Benedict was "still discussing the possibility of scheduling games in recent days, it appeared to be an uphill battle." Games against Indiana, Illinois, Ole Miss and Maine were "already canceled, while games against North Carolina and Virginia appeared unlikely." UConn "could have also faced travel restrictions for some of the remaining scheduled games, as there are currently 34 states in the U.S. on a travel advisory list." It is "unclear what will happen with players’ eligibility with UConn not playing this year and how scholarships will be handled if players wish to return" (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/5). ESPN’s Heather Dinich reports three Power Five ADs "told me the exact same thing, which is this is a situation unique to UConn and its independence and quite frankly, the struggles that they have had." Dinich: "Nobody that got back to me expects this to create a snowball effect." She also noted UConn has a "financial buyout that they have to pay for leaving the American Athletic Conference, which is quite hefty" (“Get Up,” ESPN, 8/5).
WHAT IS LONG-TERM FUTURE LIKE? YAHOO SPORTS' Nick Bromberg notes it is "fair to wonder just what the future holds" for UConn football. The athletic department’s finances "weren’t great before the pandemic and are almost certain to get worse in the coming months." UConn in June announced plans to cut four sports after the '20-21 season and today indicated that it "would be announcing the status of its Big East-aligned sports in the future." It is "not impossible for UConn’s football program to come back," as UAB was able to "return to Group of Five relevance after it was shut down for a few years." However, that was "made possible because of a public groundswell of support and a push to make the program good again." Bromberg: "That could happen at UConn in 2021 and beyond if the support -- both emotionally and financially -- is there" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/5).