Virginia Tech announced Saturday its season-opening game against rival Virginia, originally scheduled for Sept. 19, has been postponed because of COVID-19 concerns.
The Commonwealth Cup will be rescheduled for a later date, and the Hokies are going to pause football activities for four days.
Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente released a statement about the decision:
"My primary concern continues to be the well-being of the student-athletes on our football team. I hurt for them because I know how badly they want to compete. I also appreciate that these young men have been dealing with the same stress, uncertainty and anxiety as their fellow Virginia Tech students over the past few months as their spring semester was dramatically altered. Then they were forced to find a way to train on their own, and to their credit, they found a way to get it done.
"So many individuals worked so tirelessly to give us an opportunity to get back on campus to train and to get back on the practice field. To all of those individuals who continue to go the extra mile for our student-athletes, I'm extremely grateful. I appreciate how many people at Virginia Tech are so deeply invested in the success of our football team and our young men."
Virginia Tech's dashboard shows students who moved to campus in August were tested and that just 21 of the 9,041 tests returned positive results (0.23 percent). The numbers have skyrocketed, however, with 219 of the 1,331 tests taken from the period of Sept. 4 through Sept. 10 coming back positive (16.5 percent).
Pete DeLuca of WDBJ reported Friday over 40 students at the school were given interim suspensions for violating local health guidelines related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Analysis by Shawn Hubler and Anemona Hartocollis of the New York Times showed colleges around the United States have become "hot spots for virus transmission," with more than 36,000 new cases over the past week.
A viral video taken last week near the home stadium of South Carolina's football team showed students packing a sports bar with no masks or social distancing:
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will now attempt to open its regular season Sept. 26 when it is scheduled to host NC State.
Hokies athletic director Whit Babcock remains hopeful the delay won't impact the team's ability to play its entire ACC schedule:
"The safety, as well as the physical and mental well-being of these young men and women entrusted to our care by their families, remains our top priority. While we share the disappointment of everyone who hoped to begin the football season against our in-state rival, we remain optimistic that a full ACC football schedule can be played thanks to the flexibility the present format permits. Despite this delay, our schedule still aligns closely with the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 football timelines."
Virginia Tech is scheduled to play every weekend through late November. Their next open date would be Nov. 28 between games against Pittsburgh and Clemson. Virginia is scheduled to face Florida State that day, so finding a way to reschedule the rivalry clash could prove difficult.
The Cavaliers are now slated to open the campaign Oct. 3 with a road game against Clemson and won't have a free date until mid-December.