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COVID Claims FSU-Duke Game, Too, Leaving Seminoles' Football Program Reeling

Florida State University's football team will face off against Georgia Tech this Saturday.
On Sunday, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced that the Seminoles' game this Saturday at Duke was also called off.

The program lost an estimated $2 million after it called off its game against Clemson on Nov. 21. That number will be higher after its next two games against Virginia and Duke were also nixed.

The notice went out across Florida State University’s alert system Saturday morning, hitting emails and cellphones at roughly the same time. An email reads 10:45 a.m. A text alert reads 10:44 a.m. The message is one line:

“The FSU vs Virginia Game has been postponed.”

The game was supposed to signal a restart for Florida State a week after its game against Clemson was canceled, four hours before kickoff, at the advice of medical staff following a positive coronavirus case on Clemson’s team and concerns about exposure. The game was initially slated for Nov. 21.

FSU estimated it lost $2 million due to that cancellation.

On Sunday, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced this Saturday's game at Duke was also called off. Coupled with the Virginia and Clemson games, money problems are mounting for the Seminoles' program.

A few quick thoughts on @fsufootball. First, FSU has now lost 2.5-3 million in EARNINGS (not revenue) by missing the last 2 home games. If you think they’re canceling to avoid losses I can’t help you. They want to play these games. (1-9),” tweeted Tom Block, vice president for Advancement Relations at the FSU Foundation, the school’s fundraising arm. Block also hosts a podcast and talk show focused on FSU athletics.

The cause of those called off games: coronavirus.

Florida State isn’t alone in trying to juggle health concerns along with the need to keep football revenues flowing. Other key games at other schools have been postponed throughout the season, according to an analysis by Sports Illustrated.

“For the 2020 season, 477 games have been scheduled, 365 games have been played, 81 games have been canceled or postponed with 16.9% of games impacted,” the publication reported in a Nov. 21 article about the FSU-Clemson situation.

The NCAA also keeps a running listof postponed and canceled games.

According to ESPN, the ACC requires players who test positive isolate for 10 days, and all players involved in contact tracing must be quarantined for 14 days.

FSU’s problems are beginning to compound for a team that has struggled all year —particularly with injuries among key positions. The team has a 2-6 record and no more games remaining on the schedule, although the conference has set aside the weeks of Dec. 12 or 19 as possible makeup dates.

“Our team underwent the mandated third-party testing and learned late (Friday) night that we had one positive test. Contact tracing this morning determined that, with opt-outs and injuries, we had just 44 scholarship players for the game, with some position groups depleted almost entirely,” FSU Athletic Director David Coburn said in a press release.

“We deeply regret that many Florida State and Virginia fans have already traveled to the game as well as Virginia’s team. We simply had no way of knowing we would not be playing until this morning. We made every effort to play, but we could not do so in a way that was safe for the players.”

Time is running out for FSU to make up the lost games. Virginia has already had one game moved. It was supposed to play Virginia Tech on Sept. 19. That game is now Dec. 12.

FSU has also been pushing to reschedule its game with Clemson, but no date has been announced.

The Seminoles have dealt with positive COVID-19 cases before. Coach Mike Norvell was among them, having to sit out and watch from home as his team was dealt a defeat by Miami, 52-10 in September.

Copyright 2020 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.org.

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.
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