"We engaged and listened to the concerns of our football student-athletes and feel this is the best decision," head coach Randy Edsall said

UConn Huskies
Credit: Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty

The University of Connecticut football team has canceled its 2020 season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

UConn's Department of Athletics made the announcement on Wednesday, explaining that the athletes would remain on scholarship to continue their classes, either virtually or in person, as full-time students. The team members will also continue to receive the support services set aside for student-athletes, as well as have access to any designated facilities.

"After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we've decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season," director of athletics David Benedict said. "The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk."

The team returned to campus in early July and has reported zero positive cases of COVID-19 since. However, players still felt it would be best to refrain from playing this season.

"The necessary measures needed to mitigate risk of football student-athletes contracting the coronavirus are not conducive to delivering an optimal experience for our team," Benedict added. "Ultimately, the student-athletes would rather preserve their year of eligibility with an eye to competing under more typical circumstances during the 2021 season."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

UConn Huskies head coach Randy Edsall
UConn Huskies head coach Randy Edsall
| Credit: Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Head coach Randy Edsall supported the move, saying it was "the best decision" for the team.

"We engaged and listened to the concerns of our football student-athletes and feel this is the best decision for their health, safety, and well-being," Edsall said in the news release.  "Our team is united in this approach and we will use this time to further player development within the program and gear ourselves to the 2021 season."

UConn football players also released a joint statement approving of the department's decision to cancel their season.

"As a team we are in full support of the decision to not compete in 2020. We have many health concerns and not enough is known about the potential long term effects of contracting COVID-19," it read. "Additionally, we have not had the optimal time to train mentally & physically to be properly prepared to compete this season. We love this game and love competing. We came to campus in the beginning of July knowing there would be challenges presented by the pandemic but it is apparent to us now that these challenges are impossible to overcome."

Elsewhere, universities are grappling with decisions to reform or continue athletics as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.

Just last week, more than a dozen players on the Rutgers University football team tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak reportedly stemmed from an on-campus party.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.