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Three Syracuse football players tested positive for COVID-19 in their Wednesday test and negative on Friday last week, indicating inconclusive results leading up to the game against Georgia Tech, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said in a press conference Monday.
Those players were retested right before Saturday’s home-opener to confirm the negative tests, delaying the Georgia Tech game by more than 30 minutes. McMahon told reporters that the county recommended SU retest the players prior to kickoff as a precautionary measure, according to Syracuse.com. All three came back negative and the game resumed, with the Orange prevailing 37-20.
“Think about the timing of this,” McMahon said. “They get tested on Friday before a game. The game is at noon. Not a lot of turn time. The Wednesday results, it’s my understanding that they came back late Friday night … Friday’s results come in Saturday morning. You see a potential false-positive there, so we went and got an additional test.”
McMahon’s press conference provided the most details to date about the delay. At the time of the original kickoff, Syracuse Athletics released a statement saying kickoff had been delayed to reconfirm the tests of three players “out of an abundance of caution,” but did not explain why that was necessary.
Confusion began when Syracuse ran out of the tunnel for a noon kickoff, then both teams abruptly retreated back to their locker rooms shortly before 12:00. Redshirt players remained on SU’s bench, the three rapid tests came back negative and both teams retook the field at 12:27 p.m.
“The first thing that passes my mind is this season right now is just weird,” junior defensive back Trill Williams said postgame.
Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins had a different answer in the virtual press conference. When asked whether he’d been given an explanation as to why the game was delayed, he stared silently into the camera for about 15 seconds, ignoring the question.
I just asked Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins what the explanation given to him was for the 30-minute delay to retest 3 Syracuse players for COVID-19.
He ignored the question and stared into the camera for about 20 seconds. SU statement explaining the delay was vague. pic.twitter.com/GD0Dyk5MnF
— Danny Emerman (@DannyEmerman) September 26, 2020
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Had the rapid retests come back postive, it’s entirely possible — if not likely — the game would’ve been canceled.
“I don’t want to talk about hypotheticals,” McMahon said Monday. “But it’s highly likely if you had a positive that close to a game, that game might not have happened. (County Commissioner of Health) Dr. (Indu) Gupta makes that call, not yours truly.”
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