The North Texas-Houston football game scheduled for Saturday has been postponed, the fourth season opener the Cougars have been unable to play due to the coronavirus pandemic.
North Texas said in a statement Wednesday that four positive COVID-19 tests this week, and subsequent contact tracing, left the Mean Green unable to field a team for the game. Both schools are looking to reschedule if possible.
Houston has previously had opening games against Rice, Memphis and Baylor postponed or canceled. In all four cases, Houston’s opponents had coronavirus issues that did not allow them to play.
The Baylor game was quickly scheduled for Sept. 19 after Memphis was forced to postpone, only to have the Bears encounter their own issues and cancel the day before kickoff.
“We understand this COVID-related decision North Texas has made to not play Saturday’s game and appreciate the consistent dialogue with our program by UNT athletics director Wren Baker, his administration and medical staff during this week,” Houston vice president for athletics Chris Pezman said in a statement. “I am disappointed for our student-athletes who have continued to focus on competing this season and were ready to play this Saturday. We will continue to work to adjust our schedule with the hopes of playing as soon as we can.”
In addition, Houston also had a scheduled game against Washington State on Sept. 12 canceled last month when the Pac-12 decided it would not start the fall season on time. So with that game included, Houston has had five September games either canceled or postponed.
On Monday, Houston coach Dana Holgorsen was asked about all the game postponements and cancellations, saying, “Unfortunately, those games weren’t played, but it’s 2020, and we’re used to this crap. So we’re gonna get ready to go play North Texas.”
Two days after making those comments, Houston found itself without an opponent.
Houston-North Texas wasn’t the only game postponed. Arkansas State postponed Saturday’s game against Tulsa because it did not have enough players at a specific position group to play the game safely.
“This is a result of a combination of positive tests on Monday and other players still displaying symptoms, as well as having time to safely re-acclimate prior to the game,” Arkansas State athletics director Terry Mohajir said in a statement. “This decision is based on the ability to safely field a two-deep at the position group rather than the total number of players unavailable. We are taking all precautions as our student health and safety remains our first and foremost priority.”
Arkansas State said it would be able to play its Oct. 3 game against Coastal Carolina.