UL football practices in limbo amid coronavirus crisis
The UL football team has had to alter its practice plans due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
"Future practice status," UL spokesman Patrick Crawford said Friday, "will be determined early next week."
More is expected to be known Monday or Tuesday.
Crawford had no update on practice plans for UL's other sports team in what he called "a constantly evolving situation."
The Sun Belt Conference, of which UL is a member, opted Thursday to cancel its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and suspend all spring sports.
The league’s decision — and the NCAA’s decision Thursday to cancel its basketball tournaments and championships for all sports for the remainder of the season — came in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping the country.
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Coach Billy Napier's UL football team did practice Thursday afternoon, and on Thursday night UL athletic director Bryan Maggard said "we’re full-steam ahead with regards to spring football, the spring game, etc.” Maggard also said at the time that recruiting efforts were continuing as well.
“But … this is a very fluid situation,” Maggard said at the time, “so it’s very possible that we may have different news come next week.”
It happened sooner than that.
On Friday afternoon, the NCAA suspended recruiting at least through April 15 for all sports.
As a result, Cajuns football receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Leger tweeted that all UL football "recruiting events are officially canceled."
More:NCAA halts recruiting across all sports in response to coronavirus
Multiple football recruits had been scheduled to visit UL this weekend, and some were able to visit on Friday before the ban went into effect. Lafayette Christian Academy Class of 2021 defensive back/receiver Kamari Cage, for instance, tweeted out photos of him on his visit.
Then came word Friday night regarding the Cajuns' practice schedule. UL had been slated to hold the fourth of 15 spring practices Saturday.
Also Friday, nearby LSU and other SEC programs suspend both practice and competition for all sports through April 15.
Related:LSU ends all practices and any team activities through April 15 after SEC edict
Plans for UL's annual spring finale, currently scheduled for April 9 at Cajun Field and usually open to the public, also remain in limbo as a result because of all the uncertainty. Some schools nationally already have canceled their spring games.
UL is scheduled to open its season Sept. 5 at home against FCS Southland Conference-member McNeese.
Asked if the call on whether to ultimately cancel or postpone the spring football game would be made by the NCAA or by the school, Maggard said Thursday that, “I would think that would be more of an institutional and/or conference decision, but at this time we do not know.”
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Napier’s team went 11-3 last season with a LendingTree Bowl win over Miami (Ohio),
After Tuesday night’s football practice, the last time he met with media members and was made available for comment, Napier said, “I think it’s day-to-day for everybody involved, right? … We’ll adapt if we need to. I think right now we don’t have to worry about it.”
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Since then, much has changed — both in terms of the virus’ spread, and the response of the NCAA and its member conferences to it.
Sun Belt spokesman Scottie Rodgers told The Daily Advertiser in an email Thursday that “each campus is handling shutdowns/suspension of operations differently” with regard to spring football games and practices.