NDSU, USD football game canceled due to COVID-19

The game will not be rescheduled
Published: Mar. 27, 2021 at 9:55 AM CDT
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VERMILLION, S.D. (Valley News Live) - The North Dakota State football team was sitting down for pregame breakfast in Vermillion, S.D. when head coach Matt Entz told the team today’s scheduled game against the University of South Dakota was canceled.

“Just really disappointed for our guys and our staff,” NDSU Director of Athletics Matt Larsen told the KVLY and KFYR Bison Football Network Saturday morning. “I know all the time and energy they put into this and we’ve been fortunate as a department, we really haven’t been bit by the bug, so to speak, with having to lose games.”

According to the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the game was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test and subsequent contact tracing in NDSU’s Tier 1 personnel, which consists of student-athletes, coaches, managers and staff. As a result, the Bison packed up and returned to Fargo immediately.

Larsen was initially told Saturday morning there were positive COVID-19 tests from both programs and that medical staff thought it was best to cancel the game but later learned the positive tests were actually just among NDSU’s Tier 1.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference announced the game will not be rescheduled. South Dakota is already scheduled to play Western Illinois on April 17. The open date left by the league for COVID-19 postponements.

Associate Commissioner Mike Kern explained there is a need to be flexible with the spring season though. Confirming if for any reason, Western Illinois were unable to play on April 17, there is a chance the Bison could take the open date with the Coyotes.

“If we have two teams that are available to play a game,” Kern answered in an email, “and the facility is available, we would make every effort to provide a safe opportunity to play.”

This is the second MVFC game called off this week. On Friday, North Dakota at Youngstown State was postponed for the April 17 date. According to a UND statement, they had a positive COVID-19 test in their Tier 1 group, which includes players, coaches and staff.

NDSU is scheduled to play South Dakota State in one week.

“Our plans are still to play that game,” Larsen said early Saturday morning. “We still have some hurdles we have to jump over to make sure that everyone is safe and healthy to be able to play next week.”

One of those hurdles the program faces is when they can test again.

“It’s been a challenging year for a lot of folks. You think about all the sacrifices, all the things our student-athletes have done differently to try to be able to compete. And we’ve come a long way and been able to compete,” Larsen said. “So to have this hours before the game, I was in the room when coach told the team and there was certainly disappointment, a lot of disappointment across the room so I feel for those guys because they’ve put a lot in to be able to compete and unfortunately today we don’t get to.”

The Bison are currently ranked second nationally and in a three way tie in the MVFC standings with SDSU and UND. None of those teams are playing this weekend. The Jackrabbits game with Illinois State was canceled on Monday when the Redbirds announced they were no longer participating in the spring season due to the health and safety of their players.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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