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The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has suspended spring practices for its football team, athletic director Mark Wharton said Friday.
Wharton confirmed the decision during a news conference Friday at McKenzie Arena, citing recent developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. There is hope football practices could resume at the end of the month, though Wharton believes, for the safety of the athletes, it will likely be later.
"Whether that's 15 practices or 16 practices — they've been off for three weeks — so if we get the green light to go April 1, it's not like you can go out there and start running plays," he said. "They have not run in three weeks, have not lifted in three weeks. We have to get their bodies back in competitive shape to even run a play."
UTC also canceled its Fan Fest, the annual spring football showcase that has included events such as a chicken wing cooking contest and was planned for April 4 this year. Wharton said the football program's pro day that was scheduled for next Tuesday has been postponed.
The UTC softball team returned to Chattanooga on Friday from Clearwater, Florida, after the tournament the Mocs were participating in was canceled.
Per the Southern Conference, all spring sports competitions for its member schools are suspended through March 30. On Thursday the NCAA announced its remaining winter and spring championship events for 2020 were canceled, putting in doubt the regular season for spring sports as well.
UTC's exhibition against the United States national softball team, scheduled for April 7 at Frost Stadium, was still on as of Friday.
That may change, though, with a news release from the Chattanooga Sports Committee on Friday stating that it is "in contact with USA Softball about any potential decision to postpone or cancel the game."
The committee expects to provide more information from USA Softball early next week. UTC announced earlier this week that all tickets had been sold for the game, which is part of the Stand Beside Her Tour in advance of this summer's Tokyo Olympics.
"Protecting spectators and staff is of the utmost importance to us, and we want everyone to have a good experience in Chattanooga should the event move forward," the release stated.