The Michigan football team announced Monday that it suspended all in-person activities because of an apparent increase in the number of coronavirus cases within the program, imperiling the Wolverines’ home game Saturday against Maryland.
Michigan played Saturday, suffering a 27-17 setback to Penn State, its fourth loss in its past five games. On Monday, coach Jim Harbaugh, the younger brother of Ravens coach John Harbaugh, told reporters that the program would shift to online meetings and coaching.
“Today, out of an abundance of caution, Michigan football is going to hold everything virtually,” Harbaugh said. “We had an increased number of presumptive positives that are awaiting confirmation.”
Harbaugh declined to speculate on how this development would affect Saturday’s game against the Terps.
“Like everything, it just goes along with the culture here that has been set here since June,” he said. “This is day to day. When the results come back, we’ll monitor those results and as always continue to be very proactive.”
Maryland (2-2) is familiar with what the Wolverines are experiencing after the Terps had 23 players test positive for COVID-19 since Nov. 11. Those players, including four starters on offense and two more on defense, were absent from Saturday’s 27-11 loss at No. 10 Indiana.
The worry is that if the game at Michigan (2-4) at 3:30 p.m. is canceled, Maryland will have lost its third game in its original eight-game schedule. Under that scenario, the program would slip below the six-game threshold required to earn consideration for the Big Ten championship game Dec. 19.
The Terps currently rank third in the conference’s East Division, trailing No. 3 Ohio State (4-0) and No. 12 Indiana (5-1).
A team spokesman said coach Mike Locksley will be available Tuesday during his customary media session to comment on the current situation. A spokesman for athletic director Damon Evans did not return a request for comment.
Like much of the nation, the Big Ten has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. First, Wisconsin (2-1) lost two games in October and then a third Saturday after Minnesota backed out because of its own COVID-19 issues. The Badgers are ineligible for the conference championship game.
On Monday, the Golden Gophers (2-3) canceled their second consecutive game — a Saturday home contest against No. 16 Northwestern — after reporting that 47 people have tested positive for the coronavirus since Nov. 19.
The Buckeyes have also missed out on two games after a COVID-19 outbreak of their own. If games against Michigan State or Michigan are canceled, Ohio State would also find itself out of contention for the Big Ten title.