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UMass Minutemen reverse call, to play limited fall schedule

UMass, which canceled its fall football season six weeks ago, reversed course and announced Monday that it intends to play a limited number of games beginning in mid-October.

The announcement came after what the school said was a "positive review" of safety protocols and COVID-19 testing since players returned to campus in June. The statement also cited other conferences who have returned to play in the fall.

Last week, the Big Ten announced that it would resume competition on Oct. 24.

UMass, an independent program, said it will announce opponents as they become official.

The football team has had players training on campus ever since the school's initial decision to cancel the fall season on Aug. 11. The school said it has administered 1,800 coronavirus tests to members of the football program in the past 13 weeks, with two positive results.

UMass coach Walt Bell said in a statement, "Today is a great day for Massachusetts Football."

"The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff has always been our first priority," athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. "Since returning to campus in June, the members of our football program have been vigilant in following the policies and safety protocols instituted by the state, our university and athletics department, helping us reach a high level of confidence that we can safely conduct a truncated season this fall. Further, our recent work to generate a schedule in the spring semester, similar to our other fall sports, indicated that fall 2020 provided the best opportunity for our football student-athletes to take the field this academic year."