Michigan football pauses team activities amid presumptive positive coronavirus tests

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh watches the game against Penn State on Saturday.

Michigan’s football program has suspended all in-person organized team activities while awaiting the results of presumptive positive coronavirus tests.

The team opted to hold meetings virtually on Monday during a pause, which was taken out of an abundance of caution, according to coach Jim Harbaugh. No timeframe was given for a potential return.

"It goes along with the culture that has been set since June," Harbaugh said during a Zoom call with reporters. "This is day-to-day. When results come back, we’ll monitor those results and continue to be very proactive."

More: Is Michigan football in free fall?

The development could further jeopardize the status of The Game, the bitter rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan that has been held in each season since 1918 and is scheduled to take place on Dec. 12 in Ohio Stadium.

The Buckeyes halted their organized activities late Friday, including canceling a Thanksgiving weekend game at Illinois, due to a spike in positive COVID-19 cases. The exact scale of their outbreak remains unknown, though head team physician Jim Borchers said the general population of the program had exceeded a positivity rate of 7.5%, which would include at least 13 positives out of the 170 players, coaches and staff members who are tested each daily for the virus.

Big Ten teams receive daily antigen testing for COVID-19 but also go through polymerase chain reaction testing in order to confirm positive rests. PCR tests are seen as more accurate.

Harbaugh declined to say if the Wolverines would cross the Big Ten’s threshold requiring a shutdown of team activities for a week if all the results were confirmed to be positive, adding only, "We’re going to follow all protocols, and we’re awaiting the results from the confirmatory tests."

The Wolverines are scheduled to host Maryland on Saturday ahead of their scheduled visit to Ohio State.

Harbaugh offered no predictions for his team's status beyond Monday.

"We're going to continue to do what we’ve done," Harbaugh said. "The health and safety is first and foremost. And continue to lean on the medical professionals. An abundance of caution, always. It’s a continuation of being proactive."

In order to be eligible for the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 19, the Buckeyes must play their remaining regular-season games against Michigan State and Michigan. The minimum game requirement for the title game is six, and they have had only four games.

The game against the Spartans remains on the schedule for Saturday ahead of the rivalry game with the Wolverines.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman