Wisconsin cancels Saturday’s football game against Nebraska due to ‘elevated’ COVID-19 cases

Wednesday, the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced its football team would pause all team-related activity due to "elevated" COVID-19 cases, including Saturday’s game against Nebraska.

The game is not expected to be rescheduled.

According to the university, as of Wednesday morning, a total of 12 people – six players and six staff members – within the Badgers’ program tested positive for COVID-19 in the past five days. Additional test results were pending.

"We have said from the beginning that the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff members comes first," the university’s Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said. "Over the past several days we have seen a rising number of student-athletes and staff contract the virus. The responsible thing for us to do is to pause football-related activities for at least seven days."

The announcement followed reports that starting quarterback Graham Mertz had tested positive twice – which would require him to sit out at least 21 days under Big Ten protocols – and that backup quarterback Chase Wolf had tested positive at least once.

Wisconsin already had lost 2019 starting quarterback Jack Coan to foot surgery that has left him out indefinitely. The Badgers’ only other scholarship quarterback is junior Danny Vanden Boom.

“I am disappointed for our players and coaching staff who put so much into preparing to play each week," Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said. "But the safety of everyone in our program has to be our top priority and I support the decision made to pause our team activities.”

Wisconsin becomes the first Big Ten school to postpone a game since the league started its pandemic-delayed season last week. This is the 37th game involving Football Bowl Subdivision teams to be postponed or canceled since Aug. 6.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.