EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – UTEP redshirt freshman quarterback TJ Goodwin announced on Sunday evening that he was opting out of the 2020 football season, citing personal reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision comes just hours after Goodwin missed practice on Sunday and redshirt sophomore Gavin Hardison was named the starting quarterback by head coach Dana Dimel. Goodwin and Hardison had been competing for the starting job.
In a statement released to Twitter, Goodwin provided some clarity for his decision.
“After conversations with my family and much prayer, I have decided to exercise my NCAA opt-out option for the 2020 season during this worldwide pandemic,” Goodwin wrote. “It was the toughest decision of my life but due to personal reasons, it’s what I feel is best for me as a person and a player. I wish nothing but the best for my brothers this season and have confidence that the Miner revival will continue to come alive.”
The NCAA approved a policy earlier this summer that allows players to opt out of the 2020 season without losing a year of eligibility, then return in 2021. With Goodwin choosing this route, he will be able to remain at UTEP and on scholarship while making his decision to stay or leave El Paso. However, since he has opted out, he cannot participate in any football activities.
As of Sunday night, a source told KTSM that Goodwin had not yet decided whether to stay or leave the Sun City. With classes largely going online for the fall semester, it is possible he could return home to the Houston area and still attend classes at UTEP.
The NCAA also introduced legislation on Friday that would provide all fall sports athletes an extra year of eligibility, regardless of whether their seasons are played in the fall, spring, or not at all. Therefore, Goodwin will almost assuredly get this year of eligibility back, even if he chooses to transfer away from UTEP after opting out.
After Goodwin missed practice on Sunday, Dana Dimel wouldn’t elaborate on why Goodwin was absent and did not provide a timeline for his return, or say if he was transferring.
“It’s not anything I could talk about right now,” Dimel said at the time. UTEP officials declined comment on Dimel’s behalf on Sunday night following Goodwin’s decision to opt out.
Goodwin’s decision is made even more interesting, because on Aug. 17, he told reporters that he felt fortunate to be playing football.
“I definitely still feel fortunate to be playing because there’s a lot of players out there that are doing everything they can to try to get to play,” Goodwin said last Monday. “There’s people out here trying to put everything on the line to play this season. Not being able to play puts a lot of complications on people. I wake up with a smile everyday knowing I get to go out there and play.”
Before opting out, Goodwin was not getting as many first team reps as he had earlier in camp, as the Miners began gravitating towards Hardison as the starter. With Goodwin out of the fold, Hardison will be backed up by Calvin Brownholtz and Isaiah Bravo.
UTEP will open the season at home on Sept. 5 vs. Stephen F. Austin.