It is a cruel certainty in sports that, for the majority of teams, the season ends on a somber note.
In the case of the University of Rhode Island football team, the tragedy of what goes in the books as a promising three-game season has nothing to do with on-field activity. While there were still games to be played, the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted so many lives showed up on the Rams’ doorstep, proving, as always, to be an unwanted guest.
In so many words, URI announced Wednesday that COVID-19 is a tough opponent to tackle. Multiple positive tests within the program left the school little choice but to pull the plug and end the season. The Rams were set to host Maine on Saturday before wrapping up their regular season at Stony Brook the following week (April 17).
— Rhody Football (@RhodyFootball) April 7, 2021
Due to the positive cases, all team activities must be halted for a 10-day period. Per a news release from URI, “there is not enough time to complete an acclimation period and be ready to play either game [against Maine and Stony Brook].”
“Unfortunately, the number of folks who came down with positive tests put us in a position where we wouldn’t be able to compete safely. That’s been our focus and mission all the way through,” said URI Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn during a Zoom call held Wednesday.
According to Bjorn, the players learned of the premature ending on Tuesday night.
“It’s a letdown, for sure,” said Bjorn.
Despite the abrupt conclusion, the Rams would be best served to remember the entire width and breadth of this quick-to-the-point campaign – one that began with back-to-back overtime wins on the road against nationally-ranked opponents (Villanova, Albany).
The abbreviated season ended with a 2-1 record and two national rankings – No. 22 in the latest STATS Perform FCS Top 25, and No. 24 in this week’s AFCA FCS Coaches Poll.
Maine Football games with Rhode Island, New Hampshire canceled
— Maine Football (@BlackBearsFB) April 7, 2021
“To have the success that they had early on, it certainly made all the work [put in during the offseason] worthwhile,” said Bjorn. “Having a unique and more intense spring season … hopefully it puts our players in a better position to have a successful fall season. We’ve seen that they’re talented enough to compete at a high level. Now we look towards focusing all our efforts on the summer and getting back to work in August. Let’s hope we can do that in a normal way.”
Now, it’s time to turn the page and look ahead to the traditional fall season. The Rams are scheduled to play 11 games with the season opener set for Saturday, Sept. 4 in Kingston against Bryant University.