Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa athletics shuts down after surge in COVID-19 cases

93 positive tests will keep Iowa sports sidelined until after Labor Day weekend

Workers from MUSCO test the new stadium lights in Kinnick Stadium for the first time Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 in Iowa City
Workers from MUSCO test the new stadium lights in Kinnick Stadium for the first time Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/

The University of Iowa athletics department saw 93 positive COVID-19 tests last week and decided to shut down workouts in all sports until after Labor Day, it announced Monday.

Since the fall semester began in Iowa City, COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed, pushing Iowa City into the nation’s top 10 in COVID-19 cases spiking. Ames also was on that list. Also Monday, Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard announced the Cyclones will host 25,000 fans for their home opener on Sept. 12 vs. Louisiana.

Pollard also said if fans didn’t recognize social distancing measures no fans would be allowed at the next game.

These are the paths the Big Ten and Big 12 are on.

The Big Ten decided to postpone the 2020 fall football season on Aug. 11. The league has been mostly silent since making the decision, but has answered a few outcries from parents and players with the decision to postpone will not be “revisited.”

Iowa athletics conducted 815 COVID-19 tests for the week of Aug. 24-30, 2020; 93 positive tests and 722 negative tests were received. As part of the return to campus protocol, testing began May 29, 2020, and includes student-athletes, coaches and staff. A total of 176 positive tests, 2,560 negative tests and one inconclusive test have been received.

Monday’s announcement was the biggest spike. Iowa football had started workouts this week. The NCAA is allowing teams not playing football this fall (Big Ten and Pac-12 among Power 5 conferences) to practice 12 hours per week.

The Iowa State news was announced in the morning. Hours later, Iowa athletics made its announcement. The schools are separated by about 130 miles. This is the first time since 1977 that the annual Cy-Hawk football game between Iowa and Iowa State will not be played. Iowa State will play host to the next one in 2021. Last summer, Iowa and Iowa State extended the contract for the Cy-Hawk Series football game to make sure both sides will play through the 2025 season. The Hawkeyes and Cyclones have played annually since 1977, with the first meeting between the teams coming in 1894. Iowa holds a 44-22 lead in the series.


Last week, phantom pains ran through the Big Ten community. Rumors of the league starting up in November started to circulate. The Big Ten stuck to no reconsideration of fall 2020.

The Big Ten still is tied to a spring/winter football model. There are reports that it could begin in January, but the league has not verified any of those reports.

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