Team activities were suspended late on Tuesday afternoon “out of caution,” said Florida sports director Scott Stricklin in a statement. During a conference call Wednesday morning, Coach Dan Mullen announced that two assistant coaches had tested positive for the virus.
The positive tests could endanger the Gators’ home game against LSU on Saturday.
Mullen “has been in touch with soccer players and their parents, and I’ve had discussions with the Southeastern Conference office, last week’s opponent Texas A&M, and this week’s LSU opponent,” Stricklin said. As of Tuesday, A&M had reported that there had been no positive tests after the game in Florida.
The school’s health and football officials planned to reassess the situation on Wednesday. Players have not been identified due to federal medical and student privacy laws.
The test results came days after Mullen caused a stir when he asked Florida fans to pack “The Swamp” for the 2-1 Gators game against LSU (1-2) that aired at 4pm Eastern Time on ESPN shall be. Attendance at college and pro games in Florida was limited to a small percentage of capacity, despite Governor Ron DeSantis approving the full opening of stadiums to fans late last month.
Participation in the Gators’ home game against South Carolina two weeks ago was listed at 15,120 out of nearly 17,000 approved by the school under early September guidelines. The Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, commonly referred to as “The Swamp”, has a capacity of 88,548 seats. Tailgating was banned on campus in Florida, and spirit teams and cheerleaders were not allowed to stand on the sidelines. The Gator Walk, where the team moves through a tunnel of fans on their way from the buses to the stadium, was also stopped. Fans had to wear face masks, especially when entering and leaving the football stadium.
Mullen wanted more, especially after crediting the Texas A&M home crowd for helping the Aggies piss off the Gators (41-38) after time ran out on a field goal. Kyle Field, one of the largest college football stadiums in the country, was about a quarter full with around 25,000 spectators.
“I know that our governor passed this rule so surely that the UF administration will hopefully decide to pack The Swamp against LSU 100 percent because that amount was certainly a factor in the game,” said Mullen on Saturday.
“I really want to see 90,000 at The Swamp,” he continued. “I don’t think the section behind our bench saw any vacant space. It was full. In the student department, 50,000 must have gone mad behind our bank. Hopefully this will create a home advantage for us next week because now we’ve got a law passed in our state that we can do that. We want our students to cheer us on to give us this home advantage. ”
W. Kent Fuchs, President of the University of Florida, was quick to respond that the school was “fully committed” to implementing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines “for every part of our campus, from classrooms to sports venues “to be followed.
Mullen rolled back his comments on Wednesday. “I definitely apologize if I’ve insulted anyone out there,” he said during a conference with reporters covering the SEC and college football.
On Monday, Mullen had praised the school and the team for their coronavirus protocols.
“I think if you look at what we could do, the safety precautions our players followed, our coaches follow, our staff follow, you know I think we are a model of the safety of what we do, I got it in done that time, “he told reporters. “I am really proud of the way we have dealt with everything and how safe we have been in everything we do and with all the precautions we have taken during that time.”