Sep 21, 2019; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Old Dominion Monarchs quarterback Stone Smartt (4) scrambles from Virginia Cavaliers defensive tackle Aaron Faumui (94) in the third quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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Old Dominion breaks with C-USA, calls off football season

Old Dominion canceled its fall athletic season on Monday, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

“We concluded that the season — including travel and competition — posed too great a risk for our student-athletes,” President John R. Broderick said in a university statement. “I know many on and off campus will be disappointed, but we must prioritize the health and safety of our student-athletes, as well as our coaches, staff and fans.”

Old Dominion’s football team becomes the 14th FBS program to announce it won’t play this fall, joining Connecticut and the 12 members of the Mid-American Conference.

The Monarchs are a member of Conference USA, which on Friday announced its board of directors approved a football schedule as well as return-to-play protocols. The first conference game is set for Sept. 12, and schools were given the option to add as many as four nonleague games.

Old Dominion was scheduled to open the season Sept. 4 at Wake Forest.

Conference USA officials didn’t immediately comment Monday on Old Dominion’s move.

But Old Dominion is opting out.

“This is just the right thing to do for everyone involved,” athletic director Wood Selig said. “After making this decision, I already feel a sense of relief.

“We’re not like the NBA. We can’t put our athletes and coaches and fans in a bubble, and we don’t have unlimited resources.”

Selig said he hopes fall sports can be played in the spring, “but first and foremost it has to be safe for everyone involved and would also require NCAA approval.”

First-year football coach Ricky Rahne said he accepts the cancellation of the season.

“My heart aches for our student-athletes,” Rahne said in a statement posted to Twitter. “From the moment our staff was hired, this group of players has been fully invested. I know how diligent each of them has worked in order to have a successful fall season. However, their health and safety is at the utmost importance, and I support the decision.”

He continued: “I am eager to continue to provide an atmosphere of development and a positive student-athlete experience for each of our players.”

The 40-year-old Rahne, most recently Penn State’s offensive coordinator, replaced Bobby Wilder, who resigned in December following a 1-11 season.

–Field Level Media

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