PULLMAN, Wash. — When Nick Rolovich first got to WSU in January of last year, he revealed he knew the exact amount of days until the next Apple Cup. He will now have to add more days on to his count.
The Pac-12 announced on Sunday that the Cougs don't have enough eligible scholarship players available to move forward with the game due positive COVID-19 cases on the roster and players being placed in quarantine due to those positive cases. Injuries, transfers, and opt outs also have played a role in the team's depleted numbers. In order to play a game in the Pac-12 this year, a team must have 53 scholarship players available. The game will be declared a no contest.
The Cougs' game against Stanford this past Saturday was also canceled for the same reasons. The program was planning on moving forward with the game before four players were placed in the COVID protocols at 11 AM on Friday. That brought WSU's total for players in the protocol to nine and dropped them before the 53 scholarship player threshold.
WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun released a statement that reads:
"After assessing the overall status of our football program, we remain under the minimum threshold of 53 available scholarship student-athletes and cannot forecast a scenario that allows us to reach that threshold by the end of the week. Earlier today I communicated with President Schulz, Commissioner Scott and Washington Director of Athletics Jen Cohen our current situation. While this is another heartbreaking week for our football program, the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches and staff remains our top priority.
"The Boeing Apple Cup is one of the most sacred rivalries in all of sports and one of the most meaningful days of the year for all Washingtonians. It's gut-wrenching and disappointing for our student-athletes and coaches as well as those at UW. As we work through the remainder of our schedule, we will continue to communicate with the Pac-12 Conference and UW if any scenario would emerge that would allow us to reschedule the game at a later point in the season."
It is a possibility that the Cougs could play the Huskies in the final week of the season, December 19th, if UW does not win the North region and thus advance to the Pac-12 Championship game. All teams that do not advance to the Pac-12 championship that week are slated to play crossover games between North and South division teams, but that could obviously be modified. WSU and UW could also play in the coming weeks if both of their games are canceled due to coronavirus concerns with their opponents.
Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel reports that there is a strong desire for both athletic departments to play the game if possible.
There are several reports that UW may replace their WSU game with a game against BYU this week instead. BYU is ranked #8 in the AP Top 25.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.