Michigan’s game against Iowa has been canceled due to its ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, according to reports. Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel was the first to report the news.
The game, which was part of the Big Ten’s Champions Week, is the Wolverines’ third-consecutive game to be canceled. Michigan’s outbreak first caused in-person activities to be halted on Monday, Nov. 30, following the Wolverines’ 27-17 loss to Penn State. Michigan returned to practice Sunday, Dec. 13, and was planning to practice this week before flying to Iowa City on Friday, but the Wolverines did not have enough available players to play the game.
“In accordance with the Big Ten COVID-19 medical policies and health guidelines, we are without a significant number of players for this week’s game,” athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement released by the school. “Couple that with the normal attrition due to injury, and we do not have enough available players at multiple position groups to field a team at Iowa. We have more student-athletes out this week compared to last week and the week prior.
“The number of positive tests over the past three weeks, which require a 21-day unavailability period, and the contact tracing requirements associated with those numbers has pushed our current list of unavailable student-athletes to over 50. This is a very unfortunate situation, and we are disappointed that our program will not be able to finish the season against the Hawkeyes.
“I am very proud of the way that our players worked to try and get back onto the field but the numbers simply don’t support us taking the field on Saturday. This has been a very challenging and difficult 2020 for everyone and we want to make sure we are doing what is right for our student-athletes at every step along the way, and that ultimately is ensuring their health, safety and welfare.”
The cancellation means Michigan will finish the season 2-4. Though there is no record requirement for bowl eligibility this season, Thamel reported that the Wolverines’ players will head home and return to campus in mid-January, after bowl season has concluded.
It will be the first season during coach Jim Harbaugh’s six-year tenure in which Michigan does not play in a bowl game. Harbaugh’s contract expires after the 2021 season, though Manuel has expressed support for the beleaguered coach in recent weeks.