Dec. 19, 2020; Charlotte, NC, USA; Notre Dame players head to the locker room following the ACC Championship football game on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, inside Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Clemson won 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via USA TODAY NETWORK

Report: Notre Dame spring football activities on pause

Notre Dame has paused all spring football activities because of positive COVID-19 tests in the program, Irish Illustrated reported Saturday.

This isn’t new for Notre Dame. Last August, the Fighting Irish paused practices amid five positive tests. The team canceled its game against Navy, scheduled to be played in Ireland, and postponed a game against Wake Forest following 18 positive tests.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick acknowledged in an interview earlier this week with Irish Illustrated that things haven’t returned to normal amid a winter season that is winding down and a spring season that is gearing up.

“I am optimistic as I look forward to the fall, which has a chance to feel more normal,” he said. “But in terms of the operation right now, you see how hard it is to get basketball games played. I think we’ll see versions of that with our lacrosse schedule and our baseball and softball schedules.

“Frankly, the spring is more challenging than the fall because every sport is going. It’s the antithesis of normal.”

Notre Dame football finished the 2020 season with a 10-2 record, losing to eventual national champion Alabama in a College Football Playoff semifinal, 31-14.

–Field Level Media

March 5, 2020; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame held their first spring football practice at the Irish Athletics Center. Mandatory Credit: Santiago Flores/South Bend Tribune via USA TODAY NETWORK

Kelly says Notre Dame making changes amid outbreak

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said his program will change protocols after 18 players tested positive for COVID-19.

Kelly told ESPN on Tuesday that doctors linked the outbreak to a pregame meal before the game against South Florida on Sept. 19 and a player vomiting on the sidelines during the game.

A news release from the school issued on Monday said that over a six-day span last week, the school performed 273 tests on football players, with 18 positives. Now, the Fighting Irish have a total of 25 players in isolation and 14 quarantined because of their close contact with a person who tested positive.

Kelly said the team ate together for the first time since the start of summer practices before the USF game — and won’t be doing so again.

“Throughout our entire time together, we had not had one meal where we sat down together,” Kelly said. “Everything was grab and go. We get into our game situation where we have pregame meal together, and that cost us. Big. We had somebody who was asymptomatic, and it spread like wildfire throughout our meeting area where we were eating and then it got guys in contact tracing.”

Now, he told ESPN, the team will eat pregame meals in a ballroom at a convention center to allow players to stay socially distant. He will use a microphone to talk to the players during the gathering.

As for the player who became ill during the USF game, he was treated for dehydration because he didn’t have signs of a concussion or other injury. He tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

“We have to think about giving antigen tests on the sidelines for stuff that we never thought of,” Kelly said. “That’s the kind of shifting sands in this whole thing, learning in-game what do you do, what don’t you do.”

The next scheduled game for the No. 5 Irish (2-0, 1-0 ACC) is Oct. 10 against Florida State in South Bend, Ind.

–Field Level Media