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ISU Football Won't Play Rest Of Season, Citing Player Health

Bryce runs
Emily Bollinger
ISU quarterback Bryce Jefferson makes a play earlier this season at Hancock Stadium.

The long-delayed Redbird football season has come to a premature end.

Coach Brock Spack announced Sunday his team will opt out of its remaining four 2021 spring football games, citing player health and safety concerns.

“I have wrestled with this decision for a couple weeks now, but I feel like it’s a necessary move to protect our player’s health and safety and their ability to be ready come this fall,” Spack said in a statement. “Injuries at key positions, especially on the defensive line where we suffered two more setbacks yesterday, have made it nearly impossible for us to play this week and extremely difficult for us to compete in the remaining four games. We appreciate all the support and hard work put in by so many in the ISU Athletics Department and on campus to get us to this point during these challenging times.”

The season, which usually begins in the fall, did not start until Feb. 27 due to COVID. The Redbirds end the season 1-3, after a home win Saturday over Western Illinois.

The decision may also affect ISU's plans to host its first-ever spring Homecoming. That week of events was scheduled to culminate with an April 10 home football game.

New ISU Athletics Director Kyle Brennan said he supported Spack's decision.

"The University, staff, donors and fans have dedicated their time and resources to make the previous four games this spring a success. In addition, we recognize that there has been much hard work by the Big Red Marching Machine, color guard, twirlers, Redline Express dance and cheer teams to prepare for the spring season. In the end, the health and safety of our student-athletes must always be our top priority. We look forward to getting healthy in the coming months and are excited for what should be a memorable fall 2021 campaign," Brennan said.

Those who have purchased tickets for the remaining two home games will be refunded. The Athletics Ticket Office will reach out to ticket holders beginning Monday.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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