(WCIA) — Illinois Football got a bye-weekend after all. Less than 24 hours before they were supposed to kick-off on Saturday, Ohio State pulled out of the game due to an increased number of positive COVID-19 cases. Among those testing positive was head coach Ryan Day.
The decision was made late on Friday night in conjunction with both athletic directors. OSU athletic director Gene Smith thanks Illinois for adjusting to the last minute changes. This is the first game that has been canceled for Illinois.
“First and foremost Josh Whitman, my colleague, the athletic director at the University of Illinois, and his patience as he worked throughout the week,” says Smith. “It was late last night to ask for them to make the adjustments that they made, they did it, and I want to thank them for that.”
Ohio State also had their game against Maryland canceled due to COVID-19 cases affecting the Terrapins. One more cancelation would put the Buckeyes are at risk of being ineligible for the Big Ten title game.
“I told the team this is just another opportunity to get through some adversity, work through adversity, and learn more about yourselves because it isn’t fun,” says Day. “Nothing about this is good, but I guess it’s just going to make us tougher, it’s going to make us stronger.”
Lovie Smith issued a statement after the announcement on Friday night saying, “We are certainly disappointed that tomorrow’s game against Ohio State was cancelled. In these uncertain times, and having seen similar situations around the nation, we have always been aware that this could occur to us as well. All of us in collegiate athletics place the health and safety of our student-athletes at the highest level. We hope the Ohio State players and staff who have contracted the COVID virus recover quickly so they can continue their season.”
Illinois will play next on December 5th, when they welcome Iowa to Memorial Stadium.