- The Sun Belt Championship game has been cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 test in the Coastal Carolina football program.
- The conference has named Coastal Carolina and Louisiana co-champions.
- Coastal Carolina beat Louisiana 30-27 on October 21.
The Sun Belt conference’s championship game between Coastal Carolina and Louisiana has been cancelled. The conference announced the decision earlier today citing a positive COVID-19 test within the Coastal Carolina program. Due to contact tracing, an entire position group would not be able to play for Coastal Carolina due to possible exposure to the virus.
As a result, the 11-0 Chanticleers and 9-1 Ragin’ Cajuns have been declared ‘co-champions’. This is likely the most equitable solution though some Coastal Carolina backers aren’t happy about the situation. This is due to the Chanticleers holding a 30-27 road victory over Louisiana on October 14. In that game, Coastal’s Massimo Biscardi kicked a 40 yard field goal as time expired to break a 27-27 tie.
The cancellation of the Sun Belt Championship game was made via a short press release:
The Sun Belt Conference has announced that the conference championship game has been canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test within the Coastal Carolina program. Because of contact tracing, an entire position group would not be available to play due to possible exposure and therefore the game cannot be played.
“We are very disappointed that the championship game cannot be played, but we are so proud of all of the players and staff members and their hard work during this truly challenging season,” said Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill. “We will honor both teams as 2020 Sun Belt Conference Co-Champions.”
The game was scheduled for Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Coastal Carolina was a -3 point favorite at most sportsbooks before the cancellation was announced.
Coastal Carolina’s athletic director Matt Hogue expressed the mood of his university as he confirmed the news:
“We are all obviously devastated with this development and hurt for the student-athletes from both institutions in that they will not have a chance to compete for a conference title. However, the adherence to health and safety protocols for our student-athletes has been and remains the first priority. Those protocols and guidance from our medical team fully governs this decision.”
Louisiana athletic director Bryan Maggard shared a similar sentiment:
“We are severely disappointed for our student-athletes and staff to not have the opportunity to play in what would have been a truly exciting championship game for the Sun Belt Conference. For our football program, fans and alumni, we look forward to learning of our bowl destination this weekend.”
As Maggard’s statement suggests, UL-Lafayette is planning to compete in a bowl game. It’s unclear what Coastal Carolina’s bowl plans will be though for now a statement on the school’s athletics department website suggests that they’re looking forward to a bowl bid as well:
Both Coastal Carolina (11-0, 8-0 Sun Belt) and Louisiana (9-1, 7-1 Sun Belt) will prepare for their postseason bowl games which have yet to be announced.
In addition to the status of Coastal Carolina’s football team relative to the COVID-19 situation there’s also a number of bowl games that won’t be played this year. There’s every reason to expect additional cancellations in the coming week meaning that the bowl options for both schools could be significantly diminished.