The most bizarre 24 hours of the early Georgia State football season

Sports fans attend the first Georgia State Football game vs Louisiana La-Fayette at Center Parc Credit Union Stadium. Photo Submitted by GSU Athletics

This past Saturday was supposed to be a fun day. It was going to be an opportunity for Shawn Elliott and Georgia State to prove that last week’s near-upset over No. 19 Louisiana-Lafayette was no fluke.

The Panthers and Charlotte 49ers were slotted for ESPNU’s noontime kickoff to begin a star-studded day for fans. 

And then, unfortunate news. The Panthers were scheduled for their second of four straight nationally televised games to start the season.

Out of an abundance of caution, Georgia State has postponed its Saturday game at Charlotte due to COVID positive tests and contact tracing,” Georgia State stated in a press release.

While the press release did not say which team contracted it, sources have confirmed that at least one member of the Panthers team tested positive for COVID-19. The school is yet to, and may not even, announce the names of those who contracted the virus.

Prior to the season, freshman quarterback Mikele Colasurdo tested positive for the coronavirus but the team cleared him earlier this month.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution learned through open records that the department tested 2,757 student-athletes and 360 athletic staff members. According to those records, six staff members and 43 student-athletes tested positive.

Georgia State did not announce an exact number of cases but joins several other college football programs that recently experienced an outbreak.

Or so we thought.

Just 24 hours after postponing their game against the 49ers, Georgia State made another press release, this time, announcing that the previous positive test results “turned out to be the result of errors in reading the test results.”

Georgia State Athletics Director Charlie Cobb explained the situation a bit more Saturday afternoon.

Friday afternoon, as we were loading the buses to play a football game at Charlotte, we were informed that four individuals out of 135 had tested positive for coronavirus from our third test in four days as part of our protocol to play,” Cobb said.

As the school mentioned Friday, contact tracing turned out to be a reason for the canceled game. Cobb said that, in addition to the four individuals who tested positive during Thursday afternoon’s tests, Georgia State found 17 others, including a coach, who required quarantining.

“As part of our protocols, we tested the individuals again Friday afternoon and were informed by our lab Friday night that none tested positive,” Cobb said.

The athletics departments also retested the swabs from Thursday and all tested negative as well.

“It was at this point that the lab director informed our medical staff that a human error Friday morning caused the error in test results,” Cobb said.

The athletics department stated that it did not feel comfortable sending its new-look team to Charlotte. Now, it wishes it could have had the opportunity to rewind time. Cobb sent a personal message to the 49ers.

We appreciate the professionalism shown by [Charlotte Athletics Director] Mike Hill and Coach [Will] Healy throughout the past 48 hours,” Cobb said.

After a disappointing weekend, Elliott and his men will prepare for East Carolina on Saturday. The Pirates postponed their first two games of the season, a road game at Marshall followed by their home opener against South Carolina, due to a coronavirus outbreak late August. 

Center Parc Stadium will either bring a Panthers home win, or Pirates road upset for a first win of the season. The only question: Who will come out on top at noon on ESPNU?