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WMU athletics the latest to shut down amid spike in COVID-19 cases

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Western Michigan has become the latest college athletic department in the state to shut down sports amid a COVID-19 outbreak.

The university sent out a media alert Thursday night citing nine positive cases during its recent round of testing, spread over four sports.

WMU shut down its athletic workouts amid a COVID-19 outbreak.

The university didn't identify which sports had positive tests, but said "several" of the cases resulted from students in "communal living situations."

"Out of an abundance of caution, the athletics division has taken extra measures by suspending practice until the full extent of transmission can be assessed," the university's athletic department said in a statement.

The university sent out the notice to select media outlets, not including The News. The News obtained the information Friday.

Western Michigan athletic competition is shut down for the fall, with the Mid-American Conference being the first Football Bowl Subdivision conference to postpone fall sports.

The fall semester has begun for students in Kalamazoo, with a hybrid of in-person and remote learning.

Western Michigan said it is "complying with the elevated COVID-19 health and safety standards for monitoring and testing as set out by the NCAA." The NCAA this summer required universities to test each athlete on a weekly basis if it was to compete in fall sports, a significant financial and logistical hurdle, particularly for mid-majors and below, that was a big reason why Division II and III shut down.

Since athletes began returning to campus earlier this summer, Michigan State had to shut down its football program for two weeks amid an outbreak, and four programs at Michigan, not including football, took a brief pause. The Big Ten has since joined the MAC in postponing all fall sports.

Several college communities in Michigan have had spikes in COVID-19 cases since students returned to school, including Central Michigan, Grand Valley State and Adrian.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984