UTAH UTES

Mark Harlan, Kyle Whittingham Issue Statements Following Utah/Arizona Game Cancellation

Nov 6, 2020, 4:01 PM | Updated: 5:25 pm
Mark Harlan - Utah Athletic Director...
University of Utah's new Athletics Director Mark Harlan leaves the field at Rice Eccles Stadium on Monday, June 4, 2018. (Courtesy of Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah director of athletics Mark Harlan and head football coach Kyle Whittingham issued statements on Friday afternoon after the Utes’ season opening football game was canceled.

Utah was scheduled to host Arizona on Saturday, Nov. 7 at Rice-Eccles Stadium when the game was canceled on Friday after the Utes football program received positive COVID-19 tests.

Mark Harlan Statement

Utah AD Mark Harlan issued the following statement on Friday afternoon.

“The cancellation of our football game is a very difficult outcome to accept, but it is absolutely the right decision under the circumstances,” Harlan said. “While I am heartbroken for our student-athletes and everybody associated with Utah Athletics, as well as our great fans, our number one guiding principle is the health and safety of our student-athletes. This also has a significant impact on the University of Arizona football program and we extend our appreciation for their understanding of our situation.

“This morning our test results included a number of positive cases, which put our team below the Pac-12’s minimum threshold of 53 available scholarship student-athletes, under the league’s game cancellation policy. Coach Whittingham and I discussed this situation extensively, as well as with our medical advisors, and it was extremely clear that to go forward with the game would put our student-athletes at risk, and we simply will not take that risk. We immediately began a conversation with the Pac-12 office and Arizona Athletics Director Dave Heeke to make them aware of our situation and the resulting decision.

“We are continuing to take every precaution to safeguard the health and welfare of our student-athletes and staff, in accordance with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee’s procedures. Those with positive test results and those in contact tracing protocols are in isolation and receiving the appropriate care.

“We will continue to monitor our testing results and stay in close communication with our University, local public health officials and the Pac-12 Conference.”

Kyle Whittingham Statement

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham released the following statement.

“As difficult as this is, there is no question it is the right decision to make. Our student-athletes’ health and well-being is absolutely paramount and we will not put them at risk,” Whittingham said. “Our team has worked extremely hard to get to this point, and we will continue to care for our students-athletes and follow all protocols very thoroughly as we prepare for next week’s game.”

Utah’s next scheduled game is Friday, November 13 on the road against the UCLA Bruins. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ABC or ESPN.

University of Utah President Ruth Watkins sent out a tweet after the news came out.

“We know this is disappointing for our players and our fans, but this is the right response to protect the health of our student-athletes and football staff,” Watkins tweeted.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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