Florida football coach Dan Mullen tests positive for COVID-19 with Gators in midst of outbreak

By Adam Silverstein
October 17, 2020
Florida football coach Dan Mullen tests positive for COVID-19 with Gators in midst of outbreak

Image Credit: ESPN Images

No. 10 Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen on Saturday announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement released on his Twitter account, Mullen explained that his diagnosis has been confirmed, indicating that his initial positive test occurred earlier in the week. He did not say whether he’s experienced symptoms.

“Thank you Gator Nation for all your support for the program this week. Thankfully, everyone impacted is recovering well and has experienced mild to no symptoms. I have also tested positive for COVID and have received word that my test has been confirmed,” Mullen wrote. “I’m continuing to self-isolate from my family, who all remain healthy, and am following all the guidelines set forth by UF Health, the CDC and our public health officials. I am proud of how our players, staff and campus community have navigated this unprecedented time and hope all continue to be safe.”

Florida has at least 21 players isolated after positive coronavirus tests and at least another 10 players in quarantine due to contact tracing.

The Gators said two members of the coaching staff had tested positive, though a program source told OnlyGators.com that more coaches were actually positive. Among those coaches who we were told also tested positive was Mullen, though OnlyGators.com could not confirm that with a second source at the time and still cannot confirm when Mullen’s positive test occurred.

The entire Florida football staff was sent home indefinitely beginning Wednesday. Players, coaches and staff have been undergoing daily COVID-19 tests and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

The Gators would’ve had less than 50 scholarship players available for Saturday’s game against LSU if it had been played. With those who test positive for COVID-19 required to isolate for 10 days and those targeted for contact tracing forced to quarantine for 14 days, UF not only had to postpone the LSU game but also its game vs. Missouri next week.

Florida will now host Missouri on Oct. 31, previously its bye week, and LSU on Dec. 12, previously a league-wide off week before the SEC Championship Game.

Mullen early Wednesday walked back comments he made following the Texas A&M game last Saturday in which the coach urged University of Florida administration to open all 90,000 seats inside The Swamp for public on sale because Gov. Ron DeSantis has ruled that stadiums could be filled to capacity.

The coach’s comments received significant blowback through Monday and were met with additional backlash on Tuesday as positive COVID-19 tests hit his program. Both Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin and school president W. Kent Fuchs made clear that there were no plans to increase capacity at Florida Field, which is currently capped at 20% (17,000 seats) amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosting South Carolina two weeks ago, the program left with 2,000 unsold tickets.

“Coaches sometimes say things that are outside their area of expertise,” Stricklin said Wednesday. “And you know, they are really good at what they do. Dan is really good at calling plays.”

Mullen attempted to reframe his “pack The Swamp” comments earlier Wednesday as not so much asking the stadium to be full of fans but rather imploring as many fans as possible to come to games and provide enough energy to impact the players on the field.

“I have tremendous respect for our local health officials. I think they’ve done a great job for us here at Florida,” Mullen said. “I think a lot of my comments maybe got taken [a wrong way as if I was] demanding. But it was more that, whatever our health officials allow us to have in, that’s what we want to have in the stadium to keep everybody safe and healthy, and as well as to create an unbelievable environment fr our players and create energy within the stadium.

“I certainly apologize if I offended people or anybody out there. I think anybody that knows me, knows our program, knows how we do things, we have great respect for all of our local health officials and for what they’ve been able to do, and what we’ve been doing here.”

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