BERKELEY (CBS SF) — The window for University of California, Berkeley playing its first football game of the season was closing this week as Berkeley city officials had not updated the status of some quarantined players as of Wednesday.
The team is scheduled to play at Arizona State Saturday but Cal’s entire defensive line was quarantined after coming into contact with a player who tested positive for COVID-19 last week. If the city does not lift the 14-day quarantine, Cal could cancel the game — the second game canceled in as many weeks.
Head football coach Justin Wilcox abruptly canceled a scheduled press conference late Wednesday, but before that expressed frustration and wanted more clarity on protocol moving forward.
“We recognize the significance of the virus, this is not minimizing the virus,” Wilcox said. “What we want to know is how we can be better so these things don’t happen. Obviously we don’t want to spread it to the community, we want to be good neighbors.
When ESPN asked for a comment, Berkeley representatives said nothing has changed.
“The University was made aware last week of the timeline for when the case will end their isolation period and for when the contacts will end their quarantine,” city spokesman Matthai Chakko told ESPN. “The team should use that information as a timeline for return of those individuals to the field. No further direction is pending from the City.”
The quarantine is scheduled to end on Nov. 17.
Pac-12, the collegiate conference both Cal and Arizona State play in, was the last conference to start its season during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite proceeding with caution, the coronavirus continues to plague the league. Just before Stanford’s game against Oregon last Saturday, three Stanford players including quarterback Davis Mill were quarantined. The team never said if it was due to one of the players testing positive or contact-tracing.
Positive COVID-19 tests among the Utah Utes also led to the cancellation of the Arizona-Utah game last Saturday.
Cal coaching staff say they were still preparing to play Saturday and were working to replace the lost players, but prospects didn’t look great.
“We’re playing against two opponents. The opponent you game plan for and that other opponent you cannot see,” Arizona State Coach Herm Edwards told the Mercury News earlier this week.
For Cal students, the hope of cheering on their team during the COVID-19 shortened season appears to be fading fast.
“It was definitely a disappointment,” said Lea Tokpinar, a senior at Berkeley. “But I also think it’s great that they’re being responsible about everything and we hope that we’ll get to see a game before the end of the season.”