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Gary Andersen on Utah State COVID Decisions: If You Opt Out, You Aren't with Us

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorOctober 2, 2020

Utah State coach Gary Andersen shouts instructions from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against New Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Andres Leighton/Associated Press

Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen told reporters on a conference call last week that opting out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic is not an option for Aggies players.

"At least in our program, we don't have an opt-out. And it's not an option," Andersen said, per Julie Jag of the Salt Lake Tribune.

"If you opt out, you're not with us."

Per Jag, representatives from Utah State's athletics department told her that "Andersen did not feel comfortable responding to a request to clarify his comments." 

No Aggies players have opted out, but NCAA rules stipulate that they can do so, per Jag. The same goes for all NCAA athletes, who can sit out the entire season without losing their eligibility. They would also keep their scholarships, including textbooks, room and board.

On Friday, Andersen walked those previous comments back during an interview with 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City (h/t Ben Kercheval of CBS Sports):

"I used the word 'policy'—we don't have a policy. That was the wrong word. We have an opt-out form. We have discussed this with the team many, many times. The word 'policy' in my mind...I was basically saying we have no one in that situation in our football team right now that has opted out. So our policy...doesn't exist right now, we're not using it. I should have, obviously, clarified that much cleaner and said that we have nobody who has opted out, or is opting out, in our football program."

He also added, per Kercheval: "Our kids, if they did decide to opt out, we are in support of that." 

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Utah State, a member of the Mountain West Conference, will play an eight-game intraleague schedule starting Saturday, Oct. 24, at Boise State. The Mountain West Championship Game is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 19.

The MWC initially postponed all fall sports indefinitely amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Aug. 10. Other conferences, like the Big Ten and Pac-12, opted to do the same.

However, as other leagues reversed course, so did the Mountain West Conference, which announced a plan for a shortened season in late September.