UL Monroe pauses football practice after spike in coronavirus tests

The University of Louisiana-Monroe has paused football practices because of nine new positive COVID-19 tests earlier this week, athletic director Scott McDonald said Friday.

McDonald says ULM hopes to resume practice by early next week as soon as ongoing testing indicates it is safe to do so.

"We fully anticipated an increased exposure to COVID-19 with the reopening of campus, the beginning of the fall semester as well as uptick in related off-campus activities," McDonald said. "We also knew that we would have to work to create a modified student-athlete bubble once classes and on-campus activities resumed this month.

"We'll await the latest round of test results while continuing to monitor our quarantined and isolated student-athletes."

ULM officials say the school has administered 1,404 virus and antibody tests combined to athletes and staff across all sports since mid-June. So far, 34 total tests have been positive. The Warhawks football team is slated to open its season Sept. 5 at Troy.

"We're fully aware that we're managing a fluid situation," ULM coach Matt Viator said. "While disappointed, we realized that the suspension of practice was a real possibility sometime this preseason. ... Our team remains optimistic that we'll be able to safely compete this fall."