UNT testing shot

North Texas is dealing with two active cases of COVID-19 in its athletics department following its latest round of testing. 

North Texas is dealing with two active cases of COVID-19 in athletics following its latest round of testing conducted late last week.

Those cases and contact tracing issues contributed to UNT’s football team playing shorthanded Saturday in its 41-31 loss to Southern Miss.

UNT officials distributed a list of seven players who were ruled out for the game moments before kickoff. Those officials declined to provide details on how many of those players had active coronavirus infections, were scratched due to contact tracing or were injured.

The university is testing its athletes three times per week to adhere to standards established by Conference USA.

UNT has conducted a total of 5,088 tests since its athletes and staff members began returning to campus in June, after the campus was shut down in March.

Thirty-two members of the department have recovered from a coronavirus infection.

UNT had three active cases of COVID-19 last week and has seen the active number of cases drop by one per week for the last two weeks.

UNT has not released its testing totals publicly. A school source provided them to the Denton Record-Chronicle on Monday morning.

The school has not revealed if the members of the department who are suffering from infections are athletes, coaches or administrators.

UNT coach Seth Littrell acknowledged following the Mean Green’s loss to Southern Miss that the pandemic has impacted the program. He also declined to blame illness and injury issues for UNT’s loss to Southern Miss.

“You have what you have. We had 20-something guys out. They probably did too,” he said of Southern Miss. “You have to give them credit. They played a much cleaner game.”

UNT has had two games canceled in the wake of the pandemic. The Mean Green’s game against Texas A&M on Sept. 12 was called off when the SEC went to a 10-game, conference-only schedule.

UNT’s game at Houston on Sept. 26 was canceled.

The Mean Green are 1-2 heading into a game against Charlotte on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

UNT knocked off Houston Baptist in its season opener on Sept. 5 before falling to SMU the two weeks later.

The school announced in the days leading up to its planned game at Houston on Sept. 26 that it had too many COVID-19 infections and players unavailable due to contact tracing to play the Cougars.

“We knew that there would be challenges with COVID-19 this season and we were taking precautions to hopefully avoid this situation,” UNT athletic director Wren Baker said in a statement announcing the cancellation. “Our student-athlete health and safety is the priority in every decision we make and that is what this difficult decision is based on. We are hopeful we can resume safe activities soon.”

UNT did resume its football season last week, despite being shorthanded.

Programs across the country have been impacted by the pandemic, including several in C-USA. Rice has yet to play a game, while Florida Atlantic and Florida International have each played just once so far.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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