Stanford's home football game against Washington State on Saturday night has been canceled because of a coronavirus issue within the Cougars program, the Pac-12 announced Friday.
In a statement, the conference said, "This decision was made under the Pac-12's football game cancellation policy due to Washington State not having the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game as a result of a number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols. Under Conference policy, the game will be declared a no contest.
"The cancellation of this game is very disappointing to our student-athletes and our fans. While all of us want to see our football student-athletes on the field competing, our number one priority must continue to be the health and safety of all those connected to Pac-12 football programs."
It doesn't appear Stanford will try to find a last-minute opponent even though San Jose State, which used to play its Pac-12 neighbor annually, had its game against Fresno State called off Thursday because of a coronavirus issue in the Bulldogs program.
"Stanford Athletics has explored alternative options to replace Washington State and at this time does not expect to be able to fill the opening," Stanford said in a statement.
Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura reportedly tested positive for coronavirus, and the Cougars were expected to start a new quarterback against Stanford, which has dealt with its own coronavirus issues.
A false-positive test kept quarterback Davis Mills, receiver Connor Wedington and two others from playing in the opener against Oregon, a 35-14 Stanford loss, and from practicing before the Cardinal played at home last week against Colorado. Stanford lost that game, too, 35-32.
"None of the guys that were held out of the game had the virus," Stanford coach David Shaw said, adding that before the Oregon game he was "surprised and anxious and pissed off and then come Sunday, less surprised and less anxious and a little bit more angry.
"But there's nothing we can do about it. It happened. It cost those four guys the game and it cost them a week of practice."
Now, a virus issue in another program will cost Stanford a game in an already truncated season.
Washington State issued statements from athletic director Pat Chun and coach Nick Rolovich.
"Based on a number of factors, our team has fallen below the Pac-12's minimum threshold of 53 available scholarship student-athletes to play a game. We are saddened for not only our student-athletes, coaches and staff, but those within the Stanford program, who have worked so hard preparing for this weekend. We have been in communication with the Pac-12 Conference and Stanford Director of Athletics Bernard Muir throughout the week, hoping to be able to play the game as scheduled," Chun said.
"We have built health and safety protocols in consultation with campus, Pac-12 Conference, NCAA, local, state and federal guidelines, and continue to follow them, ensuring that the safety of all Pac-12 student-athletes, coaches and staff continues to be our top priority."
"I'm disappointed for our team and our players," Rolovich said. "They have battled through so much this year. We had a good week of practice and were excited to play this game. I recognize the pain they feel with this lost opportunity but this 2020 football team is a resilient group of young men."
This is the sixth game canceled in three weeks of conference play. Arizona-Utah and Washington-Cal were scheduled for Nov. 7 and canceled, then Cal-Arizona State and Utah-UCLA were canceled the following week, though the conference paired up Cal and UCLA for a rare Sunday morning game that the Bruins won.
This week, the Pac-12 canceled Arizona State's game with Colorado due to an outbreak in the Sun Devils program, including a positive test for head coach Herm Edwards. Because Stanford has already played Colorado, the conference can't simply pair up the two healthy teams so they can play a game this weekend.