The University of Wisconsin football team has deployed rapid-response antigen tests nearly every day for players and staff since the beginning of the season. Deputy Athletic Director Chris McIntosh stated during a Wisconsin Alumni Association Livestream earlier in the year that UW felt good about where they were heading into the season, explaining daily testing and smart choices made by players and staff.
Sept. 30 - Oct. 20: Only one positive test appeared after going through their first month without a single outbreak of Covid-19. Wisconsin’s increased numbers of infection and positive rates heading in the wrong direction sparked concern. Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine at UW Michael Moll voiced his concerns.
“You look at our state, look at our entire nation and across the world, as hard as people have tried, we haven't completely solved this, we haven't figured it out,” said Moll. “We're just trying to do the best we can.”
Oct. 23: Head Coach Paul Chryst and every other test of his staff, players and game-day personnel all came back negative for Covid-19. Earlier that week one player had tested positive but the abundant negative tests showed positive signs for the upcoming Illinois game at Camp Randall Stadium. With the extensive number of negative tests, the Badgers elected to play against Illinois for their season opener.
Oct. 24: After the huge 45-7 victory over Illinois and breakout game by Graham Mertz, the excitement and momentum suddenly halted. Once the game was over, at least one more positive test had emerged. This sparked concerns as testing continued.
More testing occurred and the positive results kept coming. In the span of a week since the first game there were 22 confirmed cases with 12 players and 10 members of the UW staff infected. Among those players was redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz.
Oct. 27: UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank and athletic director Barry Alvarez make the tough decision and cancel the Badgers’ week 2 game at Nebraska.
“I am disappointed for our players and coaching staff who put so much into preparing to play each week,” said Chryst in UW’s statement. “But the safety of everyone in our program has to be our top priority and I support the decision made to pause our team activities.”
Oct. 27 - Nov. 3: UW Athletics announces that 10 student-athletes and 11 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. According to the university, there are 27 active cases within the football team.
Nov. 3: UW Director of Athletics Barry Alverez announced that The University of Wisconsin football team will not be playing its home game against Purdue on Saturday. All team-related activities will remain paused indefinitely with some athletes quarantining in local hotels.
In order for UW to keep playing football, the team must reach a 5% maxim positivity rate. Dr. Jeff Pothof from UW Health explained that it is not difficult to achieve with a small group such as the football team. As long as players quarantine, socially distance, and wear masks, the spread will slow down significantly.
The Wisconsin Athletics program will provide another update on Saturday, Nov. 7.