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Illinois head coach Bret Bielema tests positive, out vs. Iowa

Oct 30, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema before the start of Saturday s NCAA football game with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema before the start of Saturday s NCAA football game with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois head coach Bret Bielema is out for Saturday’s game against Iowa after a breakthrough case of COVID-19 was confirmed on Monday.

Bielema, who is vaccinated and received a booster shot recently, tested positive but feels well enough to be involved from a distance as the Fighting Illini (4-6) ready for the Big Ten date with the Hawkeyes (8-2) on Saturday.

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said the positive test was another reminder “the pandemic is not over” but said preparation for a potential COVID-19 case on the coaching staff helped the team enact a plan for the week ahead.

Illinois assistant head coach George McDonald will assume Bielema’s gameday responsibilities.

“If all stays on the current path,” Bielema said in a statement issued through the school on Tuesday, “I should be available and present for next week.”

“I’m disappointed that I will not be with our team this week when we travel to Iowa, but I’m grateful that I’m vaccinated and received the booster shot last week.”

–Field Level Media