Gophers cancel Tuesday practice due to presumptive positive COVID-19 tests

Chris Autman-Bell #7 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers carries the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers during the first quarter of the game at TCF Bank Stadium on November 20, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ((Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images))

University of Minnesota football team officials said Monday night the team will not practice Tuesday and will hold virtual meetings at the advice of medical experts after presumptive positive COVID-19 tests.

The Gophers were without as many as 22 players for Saturday’s win over Purdue, and coach P.J. Fleck said Monday “about half” were COVID-related absences. The Gophers beat the Boilermakers 34-31 to improve to 2-3 on the season.

Minnesota is scheduled to travel to Wisconsin on Saturday in the annual battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Earlier this season, the Badgers had to cancel two games due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team after their season-opening win over Illinois. The Badgers returned two weeks ago with a win over Michigan, then lost at Northwestern on Saturday.

Team officials said in a statement Monday night, “The team's goal is to return to a regular practice schedule on Wednesday in preparation for Saturday’s game at Wisconsin. An update will be provided when additional test results are returned and more information is available.”

Fleck held his weekly session with reporters Monday, and said the team was getting its daily testing done at that time. If a player tests positive for COVID-19, it's a presumed positive case until further testing can be done to confrim the positive result. Any player who tests positive, per Big Ten rules, must be out a minimum of 21 days.

If Saturday’s game has to be canceled due to COVID-19 issues, Wisconsin would no longer be eligible for the Big Ten West title. Teams must play at least six games to qualify.