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Sun Belt football championship game canceled

Coastal Carolina wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh and teammate Will McDonald celebrate Heiligh's touchdown.
Coastal Carolina wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh (6) and teammate Will McDonald (66) celebrate Heiligh’s touchdown against Troy on Dec. 12 in Troy, Ala.
(Vasha Hunt / Associated Press)

The Sun Belt Conference football championship game Saturday between Coastal Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette was canceled Thursday because of a positive COVID-19 test within the Coastal Carolina program.

An entire position group would have been unavailable to play because of contact tracing.

“We are very disappointed that the championship game cannot be played, but we are so proud of all of the players and staff members and their hard work during this truly challenging season,” Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill said in a statement. “We will honor both teams as 2020 Sun Belt Conference Co-Champions.”

Both schools were in contention for a New Year’s Six bowl spot with a victory in the first Sun Belt title game featuring a matchup of ranked teams.

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Coastal Carolina (11-0, 8-0, No. 12 CFP), the Sun Belt’s first top 10 team, was set to host Louisiana-Lafayette (9-1, 7-1 No. 19 CFP).

“We are all obviously devastated with this development and hurt for the student-athletes from both institutions in that they will not have a chance to compete for a conference title,” Coastal Carolina athletic director Matt Hogue said. “However, the adherence to health and safety protocols for our student-athletes has been and remains the first priority. Those protocols and guidance from our medical team fully governs this decision.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns’ only loss was 30-27 at home against the Chanticleers on Oct. 14.

In a season when Power Five conference teams played few games outside their league, Louisiana-Lafayette has maybe the most impressive nonconference victory of the season, winning at No. 8 Iowa State in its opener.

“We are severely disappointed for our student-athletes and staff to not have the opportunity to play in what would have been a truly exciting championship game for the Sun Belt Conference,” ULL AD Bryan Maggard said. “For our football program, fans and alumni, we look forward to learning of our bowl destination this weekend.”


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