St. Thomas football team's Sept. 4 home opener canceled due to COVID-19 protocols

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- Wide receiver Vinny Pallini carries the ball at Allianz Field on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Johnnies of St. John's University earned a 38-20 victory over the Tommies of the University of St. Thomas. (Jack Rodgers / MediaNews ((Jack Rodgers / MediaNews Group / St. Paul Pioneer Press via Getty Images))

The University of St. Thomas football team’s Sept. 4 home opener against St. Francis of Illinois has been canceled due to COVID-19 protocols, team officials said Thursday.

The Tommies, who are entering their first season as a Division I FCS team competing in the Pioneer League, say they have a 100 percent vaccination rate among players and staff. They are looking for a replacement opponent for either Sept. 4, or for a date later in the season.

St. Thomas had its 2020 fall season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and had its two spring events canceled due to COVID-19 issues. The Tommies haven't played a game since ending the 2019 season with a 17-7 win over Bethel.

"Our football program deserves great credit for its approach after a very long layoff between games," St. Thomas Vice President and Athletic Director Phil Esten said in a statement. "Our players and coaches have a 100-percent vaccination rate as a team. They continue to do everything they can to prepare and put themselves in a position to have a successful fall season. Coach Glenn Caruso continues stressing the importance of remaining physically and mentally ready to compete." 

As it currently stands, St. Thomas will now open the 2021 regular season Saturday, Sept. 11 at Michigan Tech. If the Sept. 4 home opener cannot be rescheduled, the Tommies will make their O’Shaughnessy Stadium debut as an FCS team on Sept. 25 against Butler, which will also be the program’s first Pioneer League game.