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UMass reverses field, will play football this fall

It was overlooked in the news of that day, but UMass also canceled its fall football season on Black Tuesday of Aug. 11, the same day the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced their intent to go dark for the fall.

And, like those two conferences, UMass is now playing this fall.

"The decision was reached following a positive review of the football program's stringent COVID-19 safety protocols and rigorous testing regimen, in place since players' return to campus in June," the school said Monday in a statement. It follows announcements from college football conferences across the country also returning to play this fall and reverses a department decision on August 11 to postpone football competition until the spring."

As an independent, UMass does not have to cut through the red tape of finding consensus among 14 or 12 presidents, as the Big Ten did and the Pac-12 is currently doing. If the school wants to play, it can just play.

However, as an independent, the school could have trouble finding people to play.

"UMass is focused on a competitive start date in mid-October with development of a competitive multi-contest schedule already underway," the school said. "All opponents, game dates and sites for the 2020 season will be announced as they are confirmed and will be scheduled based on the ability to meet campus and state regulations."

August was actually a boom time for independents like Army and BYU, as their lack of conference commitment allowed each the flexibility to add games with opponents who had canceled elsewhere.

Now, though, schedules are largely set.

That's a problem for another day, however.

UMass said Monday that it has returned just two positive tests amid more than 1,800 administered over the past 13 weeks, and the Minutemen are ready to play football again.

"Today is a great day for Massachusetts Football," said head coach Walt Bell. "Everyone associated with our program is excited to play football this fall. We have successfully created one of the safest environments in college football since June and our young men deserve the opportunity to compete in 2020. We are grateful to our campus leadership for supporting academic and competitive opportunities for our student-athletes and staff to do what they love in a safe manner."

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.