The Rice Athletics Department will delay the opening of football practice until late September.

The Owls would have needed to begin their preseason practice schedule this weekend in advance of opening the season in early October. However, current conditions related to the infection rate in Houston and the need for highly reliable and very rapid testing results in the competitive athletics context forced a delay in a decision to move forward.

Nov 11, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; A general view of Rice Stadium during the game between the Rice Owls and Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Rice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sport

School officials say that, based on some recent reports, more rapid and reliable testing may become available in the very near future. In the coming weeks, they will continue exploring new rapid testing capabilities and additional mitigation measures, and they will continue to monitor the progress of pandemic reduction efforts in Houston and across the country. They will also work with Conference USA on any adjustments to the Owls schedule.  A final decision on the start of practice will be made later in September.

“Our top priority is the safety of our community,” said Rice Athletics Director Joe Karlgaard. “Rice has safely welcomed back a majority of its student body and will continue to prioritize an on-campus college experience.  The very low rates of infection among our campus community are the result of a communal effort and one that requires continued vigilance and dedication. At the same time, we will continue to explore options to allow a football season to happen in 2020.”

 “As much as our team wants to get on the field and start their season, we all understand the larger issues involved,” Dunlevie Family Head Football Coach Mike Bloomgren said. “Mitigating the virus on our campus has been and will remain priority one, but there is also a commitment to trying to create a consistent scenario for football to be played this fall.”

 “I’m thankful to be a part of a university that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of the campus as well as its student-athletes while still giving us the chance to move forward and play the game we love and to compete for a conference title,” team captain Austin Trammell said.

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