The University of Maine has officially pulled the curtain on its football season after its last two opponents, the University of Rhode Island and the University of New Hampshire, opted out of their seasons earlier this week due to COVID-19 cases within their programs.
UMaine, which finished the unprecedented spring football season with a 2-2 Colonial Athletic Association record, is among only four league schools that did not have to postpone or cancel games due to COVID-19 issues within its program.
Delaware, Villanova and Stony Brook were the others. The Black Bears played all three, beating Stony Brook and losing to Villanova and Delaware.
UMaine also beat Albany, which opted out after four games.
UMaine, Delaware, Villanova and Stony Brook all had their schedules impacted by coronavirus cases at other CAA schools.
UMaine head football coach Nick Charlton said the team has begun preparing for the fall season.
“After discussions with our student-athletes and staff, our team is ready to begin training and excited for the great opportunities ahead,” he said. “Our players, coaches and support staff showed a tremendous level of resolve in order to compete this spring season. With no positive tests during any team workouts or practices since the pandemic began, I am truly proud of the relentless commitment our players and staff have given to our football family.”
Charlton repeatedly praised his players and coaching staff through the season for their discipline in sticking to the COVID-19 safety protocols even though it meant a very restricted lifestyle.
He said COVID-19 awareness was at the top of his coaching priority list.
During the abbreviated season, members of the UMaine football program were tested three times a week. They had the rapid antigen tests on Sundays and Tuesdays and the more conclusive PCR tests on Thursdays.
There were approximately 102 players, 12 coaches and four support staff members directly involved with the program.
“It was difficult for the young men of our program, considering their desire to play these last two games, but no matter the circumstances, they continue to show their resilience and readiness for the next challenge,” Charlton said. “A special thanks to Black Bear Nation for all the support throughout this unprecedented year. The future of Maine football is bright and our team is ready to get back to work.”
There will be a quick turnaround for all college teams playing a spring schedule. UMaine is scheduled to open the fall season by hosting Delaware on Sept. 4.
That will be one of four conference home games along with an Oct. 9 date with Elon, an Oct. 16 Homecoming game against William & Mary and a Nov. 6 game against Stony Brook.
It will also host Merrimack College on Sept. 18 in a non-conference game.
UMaine has CAA road games at James Madison (Sept. 11), Albany (Oct. 23), Rhode Island (Oct. 30) and New Hampshire (Nov. 20).
In addition, it will again be one of few Football Championship Subdivision teams to play two Football Bowl Subdivision teams. The Black Bears travel to Northern Illinois on Sept. 25 and Massachusetts on Nov. 13.
Maine will receive a $350,000 guarantee from Northern Illinois and $300,000 from UMass.