MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Tigers football head coach Ryan Silverfield addressed the media for the first time since a reported COVID-19 outbreak within his team.
On Friday, the Memphis football program announced it was pausing all football activities, after several players tested positive with the coronavirus. Additionally, the COVID-19 outbreak caused Memphis to postpone its primetime matchup against Houston, which was scheduled this coming Friday.
Some media reports stated there was a party bus involved, but Silverfield refuted those reports.
“Next topic I would like to address after many discussions, we believe that there was no party bus,” Silverfield said. “The first we’ve heard of it was from a media report. We were told that two players were picked up by a family. Yes, his parents were in an extended van outside of a student-housing complex.”
Silverfield said this van was the same vehicle used for families who visited from out of town, and it took them to the Liberty Bowl for their season-opener against Arkansas State.
Silverfield also spoke about the postponed game against Houston. In his prepared statement, the Memphis head coach said it was unfortunate that they had postponed the game but reiterated the importance of his program being safe, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Let me start by saying that I’m extremely disappointed in us having to postpone our game against Houston,” Silverfield said. “As I’ve stated the last six months, the health and safety (remain) the number one priority for our school and for our student-athletes.”
Silverfield said he values the working relationship he has with the local media and said reporters can always reach out to him if they have questions about something.
Though Silverfield spoke with media members on Monday, he did not take any questions and did not say exactly how many players tested positive with the coronavirus. He did say that football activities are still paused for the time being, and they will be ready to take on UTSA on Sept. 25.
Despite everything, Silverfield said together they will bounce back from this.
“As with everything, we will weather this storm,” Silverfield said. “We will come out even better with our program. Our young men are determined to have a successful season.”
Tim Hart decides to opt-out of the season:
Senior linebacker Tim Hart decided to opt-out of the season. So far this year, three players have decided to opt-out including Kenny Gainwell and Coye Fairman, who recently announced since the program paused football activities.
According to his bio page on the official University of Memphis football website, Hart has played in 41 games, making 13 starts. Additionally, he has 157 tackles (103 solo), including 6.5 TFL and three sacks.