San Jose State football relocates to Hawaii after county sports ban
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SAN JOSE– The San Jose State football team that is enjoying its best start since 1955 finally has a place to play.
The Spartans (4-0) are headed 2,400 miles across the Pacific to face Hawaii on Saturday at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, the Mountain West Conference announced. The game originally was scheduled for CEFEU Stadium in San Jose.
Kickoff time has not been announced, according to a statement released Tuesday night. The game will be broadcast by Spectrum Sports.
A San Jose State athletics official said he did not have details on when the Spartans would leave for the Islands and where they plan to practice ahead of the game.
“We explored many venue and date options for this game over the last 48 hours,” athletic director Marie Tuite said in a statement. “Moving the game from San Jose to Honolulu became the best option based on our county and the state’s current public health directives.”
SJSU had to relocate because of Santa Clara County’s new COVID-19 restrictions that include a three-week ban on all professional, collegiate and high school sports, a mandatory quarantine for those traveling into the region from more than 150 miles away and new capacity limits for indoor businesses.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested Californians could face a more restrictive stay-at-home order in the coming days.
While the announcement Tuesday answered one question, many other remains for the football team. After playing in Hawaii the team will need to figure out where to practice and then play its regular-season finale Dec. 11 against Nevada (5-1).
Like the Hawaii game, that contest must be played outside Santa Clara County. The Spartans also cannot play host to the Mountain West Championship on Dec. 19 should they reach the finale.
With all of California bracing for tighter restrictions in the face of surging case rates and hospitalization rates for the novel coronavirus, it could be difficult for SJSU to decamp somewhere in the state. Once the Spartans leave campus they will not be able to return to Santa Clara County without undergoing a 14-day quarantine.
San Jose, which did not practice on Monday, has a tough opponent in Hawaii (3-3). Coach Brent Brennan said Hawaii presents “an incredible challenge while we figure out where we are going to practice, where we are going to play. So there is no shortage of challenges for us to face and overcome.”
SJSU has faced one coronavirus-related obstacle after another. It had its two most recent games canceled because of COVID-19 issues, including one Saturday at Boise State. The Spartans did not learn about the cancellation until after arriving in Idaho. The team also did not play Fresno State the previous week because the Bulldogs had to cancel.
Brennan said Monday he had hoped the school could find a place where his players could “keep a little bit of their normal routine.” At the time, school officials said Hawaii was not an option.
Brennan added he didn’t want the Spartans singled out because many people in America have faced similarly complicated situations.
New Mexico’s football team (0-5) went to Las Vegas after losing at San Jose State on Oct. 31 to avoid having to quarantine at home. The Lobos created a “bubble” environment at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa. The team practices and plays at Sam Boyd Stadium, the one-time home of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Before the season began Oct. 24, the Spartans relocated 320 miles to Humboldt State because county health officials would not permit contact drills on campus. The team trained for 10 days in Arcata in what officials from both state universities declared a success.
Brennan said he hopes the Humboldt experience will make it easier for his players to adjust to the latest move.
SJSU officials also are searching for homes for their men’s and women’s basketball teams. The men’s season opener on Wednesday night at Pepperdine was canceled because Malibu is beyond the 150-mile travel radius. The team has three scheduled home games on Dec. 6, Dec. 9 and Dec. 18 that need to be moved or canceled.
The women’s basketball team had five scheduled games set for the next three weeks, including four at home. The game Tuesday against USF has been called off with more cancellations or relocations expected to be announced soon.