Virginia, Virginia Tech Game Postponed; Hoos Now Scheduled To Open With Duke

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Virginia won 9 games last season.
Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall must prepare his team for its fourth different season-opening opponent as the schedule continues to shift. ~ Photo courtesy Virginia Athletics Media Relations/Jim Daves

The season opener that wouldn’t stop changing changed again.

For the third time in the past two months, the Virginia football team saw its scheduled season opener shift due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. First, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Georgia in Atlanta that was the original opener on Monday, Sept. 7 got axed as the ACC and SEC made adjustments to their conference schedules. Next, UVA’s new season opener against VMI that got placed on Saturday, Sept. 12 was cancelled when the Keydets opted not to play football this fall.

Those two changes pushed the Hoos’ first ACC game to the front of the schedule. That meant the Cavaliers were then set to open their season on Saturday, Sept. 19 against Virginia Tech in the earliest meeting between the two teams since 1987. On Saturday morning, however, the two schools announced that the rivalry game had been postponed.

The VT news release said the move was due to coronavirus issues. Virginia Tech Director Athletics Whit Babcock told media in a video conference Saturday that Tech chief medical officer Mark Rogers advised that the Hokies should not proceed with the game on Saturday, Sept. 19. Virginia Tech has not released testing results for student-athletes throughout the pandemic and no numbers were released Saturday.

UVA Director of Athletics Carla Williams said the the schools and the ACC would work to reschedule the contest for the Commonwealth Cup.

“These are very challenging times. We understand and respect the decision by Virginia Tech,” Williams in a news release. “With so much uncertainty, flexibility in scheduling becomes incredibly important. I know both teams and both fan bases were looking forward to opening the season next weekend. We’ll work with the conference and Virginia Tech to reschedule.”

For a few short hours, it looked like the latest game postponement would push Virginia’s season opener into October for the first time since 1901. After the VT news broke, the next scheduled game on the schedule for UVA was at Clemson on Saturday, Oct. 3.

That potential season opener didn’t last long, though. Within hours of the Commonwealth Cup cancellation, the ACC and Virginia announced that the Cavaliers had rescheduled their game with Duke. Originally set to play in Charlottesville on Saturday, Nov. 14, the two schools moved that game to Saturday, Sept. 26. Both teams previously had an open date on the schedule for that weekend.

“I appreciate the quick action taken by the ACC and the willingness of Duke University to reschedule this game,” Williams said in a separate news release. “It was really important for the players to have the opportunity to compete given the commitment they have shown each other and the program over the last few months.”

On Friday evening, Virginia released its final preseason report for COVID-19 testing results for the student-athletes who have returned to school. The UVA football team reported no new positive tests. There have been no positive tests results for the football program, which has tested 118 student-athletes, since July 24; the program has had a total of three positive tests since student-athletes reported back on July 5.

All 27 programs have returned to Charlottesville. For the Virginia Athletics Department overall, there were five new positive tests in this round of results. Four of the five new positive tests were for individuals who recently returned to school. UVA has announced a total of 14 positive tests among student-athletes since July 5. None of those 14 required hospitalization. The department has conducted 2,164 tests of student-athletes since July 5 and the percentage of positive tests was below one percent (0.0065 percent).

With competition now underway, teams will be following the ACC Medical Advisory Group protocols for testing. Team members in football, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball will be tested three times each week they have a scheduled competition.

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