The Fighting Illini will be without their head coach when they take on the No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes this Saturday. Bret Bielema announced in a statement on Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be able to coach this weekend’s game. Bielema is vaccinated.
“Through technology, I will be as present as possible,” Bielema said in the statement. “However, when I can’t be present our assistant head coach George McDonald will handle those moments. George and I have had discussions before today if this situation would arise and I have full confidence in him and our staff in preparation for Iowa. If all stays on the current path, I should be available and present for next week. Our team has shown repeatedly this year that next man up is the standard not the exception and this will be another example of this mentality in our Illini FamILLy.”
The Illini sit at 4-6 this season, but have put together a couple of signature wins, including a road victory against Penn State, who were ranked No. 7 in the country at the time. They won on the road against No. 20 Minnesota, as well.
Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman says the team must remain vigilant and stay safe.
“Unfortunately, we are being reminded every day that the pandemic is not over – a point brought home by this most recent news regarding Coach Bielema,” Whitman said in the statement. “Our medical staff is taking all necessary steps to ensure that we are monitoring the team and taking appropriate precautions to limit any potential spread within the program. I have great confidence in our staff and players, and I look forward to another strong performance in Iowa City this week.”