The University of Idaho pulled the plug on this year’s Silver and Gold football scrimmage this weekend in response to the coronavirus outbreak, while Washington State suspended “organized team activities” for all sports through at least April 2.
That means at least the first four practices of WSU spring football drills will be postponed or canceled.
Idaho at this point is proceeding with plans for spring football drills, which are slated to begin March 30, but it has canceled its annual final scrimmage, which had been set for April 17. The school is prohibiting any type of crowd of more than 100 people, and a football team already is at that threshold with players, coaches and staff.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ll be unable to invite the families and alumni to the spring game this year,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “In the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes and our community we have decided to forgo this year’s spring game. We look forward to seeing all our fans again at the games next fall.”
Washington State confirmed in a news release that it’s complying with Pac-12 and state edicts to cancel all spring sports competitions. Practices are another matter, but even those will be scotched at WSU through at least April 2.
The Cougars had been scheduled to open spring drills March 27 and practice four times before April 2.
Their original spring schedule had them staging their Crimson and Gray scrimmage April 25 in Pullman.
Two Vandals’ XFL seasons end early
Former Idaho football players Austin Rehkow and Reuben Mwehla learned Thursday their seasons in the XFL, a secondary professional league, would be cut short amid the spread of the coronavirus.
Rehkow, a punter/kicker at UI from 2013-16 who is from Spokane, averaged 38 net yards per punt for the 5-0 Houston Roughnecks, the league’s only unbeaten team which drafted the former All-American Vandal in the fall.
“Disappointed we weren’t able to finish out the season but I understand why this decision was made,” Rehkow tweeted. “Thank you to all of Houston for the hospitality and support...really thought we were gonna make a Championship run for all y’all! Maybe 2021? As always, go @XFLRoughnecks.”
Mwehla, a receiver at UI from 2013-17, missed the Seattle Dragons’ first three games with an injury. He was coming off his first professional catch — a 4-yard reception against Houston on March 7 — when the XFL pulled the plug on its regular season.
An unnamed Seattle player reportedly has tested positive for the virus.
The XFL has not yet canceled its playoffs, slated to begin in mid-April, but has given its players approval to sign with NFL teams. The league will pay players their base pay and regular-season benefits, and ticket holders will receive refunds.
According to multiple reports, the XFL is “committed” to returning in 2021. It averaged 18,614 fans and drew almost 2.1 million TV viewers per game.