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Consecutive Game Postponements Leave FSU Football Reeling

A giant statue is shown depicting a Seminole man riding a horse. The man raises a long feathered spear high above his head. The horse stands on its back legs. The statue rests on a cylindrical platform with the words, "unconquered" engraved on it. The sky is blanketed with clouds.
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Florida State University's football team will face off against Georgia Tech this Saturday.

The notice went out across Florida State University’s alert system Saturday morning, hitting emails and cell phones at roughly the same time. An email reads 10:45 a.m. A text alert reads 10:44 a.m. The message is one line:

“The FSU vs Virginia Game has been postponed.”

The game was supposed to signal a re-start for Florida State University a week after its game against Clemson was canceled, four hours before kickoff, at the advice of medical staff following a positive coronavirus case on Clemson’s team and concerns about exposure. The game was initially slated for Nov. 21.

FSU estimated it lost $2 million due to that cancellation. Now, with the loss of the Virginia game, the money problems are mounting.

A few quick thoughts on @fsufootball. First, FSU has now lost 2.5-3 million in EARNINGS (not revenue) by missing the last 2 home games. If you think they’re canceling to avoid losses I can’t help you. They want to play these games. (1-9)” said Tom Block via twitter.

Block hosts “Front Row Noles”, a podcast and talk show focused on FSU Athletics. Block also works as the Vice President for Advancement Relations at the FSU Foundation, the school’s fundraising arm.

The cause of both called off games: The coronavirus.

Florida State University isn’t alone in trying to juggle health concerns along with the need to keep football revenues flowing. Other key matches at other schools have been postponed throughout the season, according to an analysis by Sports Illustrated.

“For the 2020 season, 477 games have been scheduled, 365 games have been played, 81 games have been canceled or postponed with 16.9% of games impacted,” the publication reported in a Nov. 21 article about the FSU-Clemson situation.

The NCAA also keeps a running listof postponed and canceled games.

FSU’s problems are beginning to compound for a team that has struggled all year—particularly with injuries among key positions. FSU Athletic Director David Coburn acknowledged as much in a press release following the postponement.

“Our team underwent the mandated third-party testing yesterday and learned late last night that we had one positive test. Contact tracing this morning determined that, with opt-outs and injuries, we had just 44 scholarship players for the game, with some position groups depleted almost entirely,” Coburn said.

“We deeply regret that many Florida State and Virginia fans have already traveled to the game as well as Virginia’s team. We simply had no way of knowing we would not be playing until this morning. We made every effort to play, but we could not do so in a way that was safe for the players.”

The season is more than halfway over, and time is running out for FSU to make up the lost games. The University of Virginia has already had one game moved. It was supposed to play Virginia Tech on Sept. 19. That game is now Dec. 12.

Saturday’s postponement, coupled with Coburn’s statement on the state of the team, is now raising questions about whether the Seminoles will have to call off their next game with Duke, which is set for Dec. 5th and was supposed to be final game of the season.

FSU has also been pushing to reschedule its game with Clemson, but no date has been announced. The Seminoles have dealt with positive COVID-19 cases before. Coach Norvell was among them, having to sit out and watch from home as his team was dealt a defeat by the Hurricanes 52-10 in September.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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