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Delay of game: Rice postpones start of 2020 football season due to COVID-19 concerns

The Owls were originally scheduled to kick off the season at the University of Houston on Sept. 3.
Credit: AP
Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) throws a pass behind offensive lineman Prince Pines (74) as Rice defensive lineman Elijah Garcia (92) tries to break past offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

HOUSTON — The Rice Owls will delay the start of their 2020 football season until Sept. 26, Rice Athletics Director Joe Karlgaard announced Monday.

The postponement will allow school administrators to continue monitoring the situation with COVID-19, both locally and nationally.

The Owls were originally scheduled to kick off the season at the University of Houston on Sept. 3, followed by the home opener against Army at Rice Stadium on Sept. 12.

The three schools are currently investigating possible replacement dates for the games later in the 2020 season. 

he Owls meeting with Louisiana State University at NRG Stadium, originally scheduled for Sept. 19, was cancelled in late July after the Southeastern Conference voted to play only conference games in 2020.

“Our student athletes are driven to compete at the highest levels and work very hard to realize their full athletic potential,” Karlgaard said. “Our decisions are guided by an understanding that while we crave competition, we have a responsibility for the safety and health – both short and long term – of our student athletes, coaches, staff and everyone in the Rice community. We must assure that the measures and protections in place are consistent with the overall posture of the university.”

Karlgaard said pushing back the start of the football season to the end of September will provide additional information about the spread of COVID-19 in Harris County and in the home cities of the teams Rice plays.

“This delay also will let us decide how to more effectively conduct practices and games."

Karlgaard said he will continue to evaluate the situation with other fall sports, including volleyball, soccer and cross country, and will make further announcements as more information becomes available.

There are reports the Big 10 is canceling its season.

On Saturday, the Mid-American Conference announced that it was postponing its fall sports -- including football -- until the spring.