From The Tribune staff reports
AMHERST, Mass. — UMass is canceling its fall football season, joining UConn as FBS independents to make the decision. UMass will attempt to play a season this spring, according to AD Ryan Bamford.
The program was experiencing scheduling difficulties after conferences across the country decided to forgo the nonconference portion of their slates. UMass plays as an independent at the FBS level, meaning it has no connection to a conference.
Those cancelations left UMass with only seven opponents remaining: Troy, Appalachian State, Temple, Florida International, New Mexico State, Army and Liberty.
“We have been in constant communication with university leadership and our football staff since March, with the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff remaining our top priority,” athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “The continuing challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic posed too great of a risk, and we reached the conclusion that attempting to play a season would not have placed the members of our program in the safest situation possible.”
“I am absolutely heartbroken for our players, our former players, our alumni and our UMass Football community,” coach Walt Bell said in a statement. “Our job as coaches and mentors is to provide opportunities for our players, and do everything in our power to not take them away. Today’s news was devastating, but we will be resilient and prepared to be our best when our best is required.”
According to Brett McMurphy, UMass is the 27th FBS football program of 130 that won’t play this fall.