EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Saturday’s UTEP football game against North Texas has been postponed, officials at both universities confirmed to KTSM on Tuesday.
UTEP officials tell KTSM the postponement has come at the request of the North Texas athletic department due to the, “surging cases of COVID-19 in El Paso.”
On Tuesday morning, it was announced the game would be played without fans in the stands, but instead it will be played at a later date.
“We are disappointed that North Texas has chosen not to come to El Paso for the football game this weekend. We understand their concerns,” UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter said in a statement. “We are committed to providing the safest environment possible in the Sun Bowl. We made the decision earlier today not to allow fans for this reason. We are proud of the diligence that our student-athletes, coaches and staff have shown to put us in a position to play every week. We look forward to rescheduling the game and playing the Mean Green in December, hopefully in front of our fans.”
UTEP President Dr. Heather Wilson echoed Senter’s sentiment in a statement of her own.
“We are disappointed that North Texas has chosen not to come to El Paso for the football game this weekend,” said Wilson. “We have a safe place to play and no players who are sick or in isolation, and North Texas has not indicated that any of their players are ill. We made the decision earlier today not to allow fans in the stadium. We are proud of the diligence that our student-athletes, coaches and staff have shown to put us in a position to play every week. We look forward to further discussions with Conference USA and North Texas on whether or when this game will be rescheduled.”
North Texas President Neal Smatresk issued a statement saying the decision to postpone the game follows the issuance of a stay-at-home order as new, daily positive test rates have reached critical levels in El Paso.
“We are disappointed to have our first postponement of a Conference USA game, but the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and coaches is our number one priority,” said Smatresk. “We send our best wishes to the entire El Paso community as they face the challenge of dealing with the latest outbreak.”
Per the Denton Record-Chronicle, North Texas offered to pay for UTEP to come play at Apogee Stadium in Denton in a last-ditch effort to play the game. UTEP declined.
Both programs plan to work together in order to get the game rescheduled for a later date. UTEP has not played a home since Sept. 19, a 17-13 win over Abilene Christian.
This is a developing story. Tune-in to KTSM 9 News at 10 p.m. and online at ktsm.com.