After the Michigan football program closed its facilities on Monday an Tuesday due to positive cases on the team, it was announced on Wednesday that their last home game of the season against Maryland has been canceled.
The amount of cases Michigan has is unknown, but it’s within the Big Ten threshold for the sport of football to shut things down. Further, current trends that are a cause for concern in regards to a potential spike also contributed to the cancellation of the game and pausation of team activities. “It’s a math problem really,” Dr. Sami Rifat said. “The number of people in the denominator and the number of infected people doesn’t determine the answer to that question. It really goes beyond that because we also sort of look at the trends. Are we starting to see a spike of activity? Where is that going? So it’s hard to give you one number, it’s very situational.”
Athletic director Warde Manuel said that the football program has over 100 tests that are coming back today (Wednesday) to be analyzed by their medical staff. Manuel mentioned he spoke with head coach Jim Harbaugh, who was disappointed by the canceled game but understands why it was necessary to do so. “I talked to Jim earlier and he was really disappointed by the decision. Understands the decision, supports the decision,” Manuel said. “But we want to play. Those student-athletes want to play. This was an opportunity that we have to pause, and we all understand it. But they are disappointed. Because they work so hard to get this far in the season and nobody wanted this, to stop this way.
The Big Ten’s protocols states that a team must stop practicing and competing for a minimum of seven days and reassess the metrics until improved if the test positivity rate exceeds 5%, and the population positivity rate exceeds 7.5%.
“I like to see a good two to three days of us trending in the right direction before we feel comfortable getting people back together,” Rifat said. “I will say, we are, I feel, incredibly responsive. We have a great deal of support across the university. So we get this information, it seems like real time. So I feel like we’re able to act quickly and hopefully mitigate spread. But also the other way around. When it’s safe to go back, we hope to act quickly in that as well.”
Michigan’s last game of the regular season is on Dec. 12 against Ohio State in Columbus.