Rice University delays football practice until late September

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Rice University football fans will have to hang tight to see the Owls play.

According to an announcement published on the university's website Sunday, the Rice Athletics Department will delay the opening of football practice until late September.

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"Our top priority is the safety of our community," said Rice Athletics Director Joe Karlgaard. "Rice has safely welcomed back a majority of its student body and will continue to prioritize an on-campus college experience. The very low rates of infection among our campus community are the result of a communal effort and one that requires continued vigilance and dedication. At the same time, we will continue to explore options to allow a football season to happen in 2020."

The Owls would have needed to begin their preseason practice schedule this weekend to open the season in early October.

"Current conditions related to the infection rate in Houston and the need for highly reliable and very rapid testing results in the competitive athletics context forced a delay in a decision to move forward," read the announcement.

School officials said based on recent reports, more rapid and reliable testing may become available soon.

Rice will continue exploring new rapid testing capabilities and additional mitigation measures, as they monitor the progress of pandemic efforts in Houston.

School officials are also working with Conference USA on any adjustments to the Owls schedule. A final decision on the start of practice will be made later in September.

"As much as our team wants to get on the field and start their season, we all understand the larger issues involved," Dunlevie Family Head Football Coach Mike Bloomgren said. "Mitigating the virus on our campus has been and will remain priority one, but there is also a commitment to trying to create a consistent scenario for football to be played this fall."

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