Cal-USC game postponed over positive COVID-19 tests

Sports

California head coach Justin Wilcox, center, stands on the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oregon State in Berkeley, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — California’s game against Southern California was postponed on Tuesday after a series of positive coronavirus tests in the Golden Bears program, the first major college football game called off this season because of COVID-19.

Cal played last week at Arizona without starting quarterback Chase Garbers and six other starters because of positive tests that knocked out 24 players and assistant coaches. The Bears lost 10-3 to Arizona.

Cal announced Tuesday that additional players tested positive this week and are unavailable to practice or play, leading to the postponement. Athletic director Jim Knowlton called it a “difficult decision.”

“We know how important every one of our games is to our student-athletes, especially our seniors who have been incredible representatives of the program, but it was the right thing to do,” Knowlton said. “Due to additional impact on specific position groups, we have decided to postpone Saturday’s game. We have had multiple COVID-19 positives within our program, and we are taking every step we can to mitigate the spread and protect the greater community.”

Coach Justin Wilcox said he was upset for the fans and the players who will miss out on the game but added there was no choice.

“Postponing this game was a last resort and not an action any of us wanted to take; however, it was not possible for us to field a team on Saturday,” Wilcox said.

Garbers criticized school and Berkeley city officials in a Twitter post Monday night, saying they had not been transparent over whether COVID-19 tests for vaccinated players are recommended or mandated. Cal said 99% of its players are vaccinated but several have tested positive anyway and are required by the city to isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status.

“We have worked too hard to have someone take this all away from us. It is wrong,” Garbers wrote. “We deserve answers and transparent communication.”

Cal has contacted the Pac-12 about rescheduling the game. Neither team has an off week during the rest of the season but could play on conference championship weekend if the conference allows.

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