EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The UTEP football season is hanging in the balance.
UTEP director of athletics Jim Senter announcing on Sunday that UTEP football team activities have been suspended after multiple COVID-19 test results came back positive this weekend in Houston. The positive cases led to the cancellation of the Miners’ game at Rice on Saturday, in addition to next week’s home game against Southern Miss.
Senter denied KTSM’s request for an interview on Saturday and Sunday, but did release a statement that reads, “During our recent COVID testing, multiple members of our football team tested positive for the virus. As a result, we determined that we would not be able to play the game against Rice. At the recommendation of our team doctors and Sports Medicine personnel, and out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of everyone associated with our football program, we have suspended all team activities. As a result, our home game against Southern Miss, scheduled for Friday, December 4th has been canceled. We will make a determination on the remainder of the season once we have received the results of our next regularly scheduled test.”
Over the course of the season, UTEP has regularly tested members of the football team on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in El Paso. This includes weeks where the Miners are scheduled to play on the road. Multiple sources tell KTSM the athletic department tested their student-athletes last week on Monday and Wednesday as scheduled in El Paso, but Friday’s round of testing was administered following the team flight to Houston.
The reason for the change in testing occurred at the request of the Rice athletic department, however, it is unclear why Rice made the request for UTEP to test in Houston instead of El Paso.
Friday’s test results in Houston led to an additional round of testing on Saturday morning just hours before kickoff. It was then multiple members of the team tested positive for the virus and the game was canceled.
Based on Senter’s statement, UTEP will be tested again on Monday. Head coach Dana Dimel is expected to address the media on Monday at his regularly scheduled press conference.
The Miners (3-4, 0-3 C-USA) are scheduled to host North Texas on Saturday, Dec. 12. The game was originally scheduled to be played on Saturday, Oct. 31, but the game was postponed after the UNT athletic department expressed concerns with traveling to El Paso for the game.
UTEP has not played a home game since Sept. 19 and with 46, 937 active cases of COVID-19 in El Paso, it is hard to imagine UNT backing down from their original stance in not wanting to play the game in the Sun City.
Will we see another UTEP home game moved to Midland (UAB-UTEP was relocated from El Paso to Midland, but was ultimately canceled due to an outbreak on the Blazers’ roster)? Will the Miners be willing to play their regular season finale in Denton this time around? Or, will the Miners call it a year?
Time and test results will be the ultimate deciding factor, but as it stands, UTEP football is sidelined.