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Stony Brook's football season ends after Rhode Island COVID-19 issues

Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore looks on

Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore looks on against the Maine Black Bears during a CAA football game at LaValle Stadium on March 20. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Stony Brook football season came to an abrupt end on Wednesday when the University of Rhode Island shuttered its season because of multiple positive COVID-19 tests.

The Seawolves’ last scheduled game was to be against the Rams a week from Saturday after New Hampshire on Tuesday canceled this Saturday’s game because of its COVID-19 concerns.

As a result, Stony Brook finishes the displaced and truncated season at 1-3.

"Stony Brook football respect the decisions of UNH and URI to end their spring football seasons," the schools said in a statement posted on social media. "With those the only remaining games on our schedule, we now enter our offseason. We appreciated the opportunity to play four spring games and look forward to our fall season opener Sept. 4."

Stony Brook athletic director Shawn Heilbron said that the school considered seeking out an opponent to replace URI, but that ultimately "even if we did get a game there’s not certainty that even that game would happen and right now we need a measure of certainty."

He said the decision was "let's provide some certainty and focus on the fall of ’21."

URI (2-1), ranked No. 22 nationally, was in a position to compete for the conference title and NCAA berth, just one game behind Delaware in the standings. However the coronavirus protocols, beginning with a 10-day pause, made it impossible for the Rams to play Maine this weekend or the Seawolves April 17.

"Because all team activities must be halted for 10 days, there is not enough time to complete an acclimation period and be ready to play either game," URI said in a statement.

New Hampshire (0-1) already had been forced to postpone games with Villanova, URI and Delaware before the decision was made to end the Wildcats’ season. Those games are now canceled along with this weekend’s meeting with Stony Brook.

UNH athletic director Marty Scarano told the Union-Leader of Manchester "unfortunately, we could not get on the right side of the COVID numbers."

"Talking to the ADs at New Hampshire and Rhode Island, this is clearly not what they wanted," Heilbron said. "And we were looking forward to opening LaValle Stadium up with bigger crowds now that rules are in place to allow that. But we respect the decisions they made and it's time to focus on the next thing."

Women’s basketball search continues

Heilbron said that Stony Brook has begun "outreach" with respect to filling the head coach position for the women’s basketball program. The school seeks to replace Caroline McCombs, who departed for George Washington after taking the Seawolves to consecutive America East championships and this season’s NCAA Tournament. He added the interviews have not yet begun "but we need to move with some urgency" because of the high number of players in college basketball putting their names into the NCAA transfer portal.

Asked about the possibility of hiring an internal candidate to replace McCombs, Heilbron said, "After someone who's been here seven years, it’s an opportunity to step back and really cast a wide net . . . conduct a national search just to make sure we're getting the very best person here."

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