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UTEP says Covid-19 tests that led to cancelation of Rice football game actually were false positives

UTEP football
Connor Putman/UTEP Athletics
A UTEP football sits along the field at the Sun Bowl.

EL PASO, Texas -- Saturday's football game between UTEP and Rice was canceled due to 11 Covid-19 positives tests within the Miners program.

But new developments stemming from Saturday pose questions as to whether the decision to cancel was the right one.

UTEP athletic director Jim Senter announced Monday evening that 10 of the 11 Covid-19 tests were false positives from an antigen test.

The Miners arrived in Houston on Friday and took PCR tests at the request of Rice.

"In early October, Rice officials asked if we would do a PCR test upon arrival in Houston the day before the game," said Senter. "We agreed to their request because we would have already conducted two of our three required tests for the week. 

"With the Thanksgiving holiday and early departure time on Friday, it would not have been possible for us to have completed our testing and received the results before departing for Houston."

UTEP received word Saturday morning that one player had tested positive from the PCR test, prompting Rice to request rapid antigen test of everyone.

"The antigen test can pick up traces of the Covid-19 virus and numerous flu strains.  Ten of the antigen tests came back positive. Upon receiving the test results, both schools mutually agreed that we would not play the game," Senter said.

After the game was canceled, the UTEP players that had tested positive took a bus back to El Paso while the rest of the team flew back by plane.

However when UTEP returned to campus, the team took PCR tests to discover that ten of the positive cases were false positives.

"The challenges associated with false positives with antigen tests have been widely publicized," added Senter.

"The false positives we experienced illustrate the problem with antigen tests as a tool for decision making for athletics competition.  We are working with our team doctors, sports medicine professionals, and campus officials to plan our return to practice and play for the football program," he said.

After UTEP-Rice was canceled, UTEP subsequently shut down all football activities indefinitely and canceled their upcoming Friday home game with Southern Mississippi.

Senter added that the game versus Southern Mississippi is still canceled, as the team has lost days of preparation that would hurt them.

Texas Sports / Top Stories / UTEP / Video

Nate Ryan

Nate Ryan is an ABC-7 sports anchor/reporter.

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