Ragin' Cajuns coach Billy Napier tests positive for COVID-19 with ULM game looming

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Billy Napier, head coach of the No. 25 Ragin’ Cajuns, has tested positive for COVID-19, the team revealed Saturday.

“Pending a successful recovery,” a statement from UL said, “Coach Napier will travel separately from the team to Monroe” for next Saturday’s Sun Belt Conference game at ULM (2 p.m., ESPN3).

According to a statement from the program, Napier started to exhibit symptoms Tuesday night and began self-isolation then.

An antigen test Tuesday and a regularly scheduled molecular test on Wednesday, the statement said, “both resulted in negative readings.”

No UL football coaches or staff members tested positive Tuesday, Cajuns athletic director Bryan Maggard said last Wednesday. But Napier’s symptoms persisted, and Saturday he received a positive test result from a PCR test performed Friday.

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Napier, the married father of three young children, remains in isolation while quarantining separately from his family, according to the statement released by the Cajuns on Saturday afternoon.

Last Sunday, Napier, 41, a former Clemson and Arizona State offensive coordinator and ex-Alabama receivers coach who is in his third season as UL’s coach, was identified in multiple national reports as a potential candidate for the vacant head coaching job at South Carolina.

His Cajuns (7-1, 5-1 Sun Belt) planned to resume practice Saturday after suspending all team activities, including practice, last Tuesday. Their non-conference game Saturday against Central Arkansas, which was to have been Senior Day at Cajun Field, was canceled because of the COVID spike inside the program.

The shutdown occurred after 33 UL players either were recovering from COVID-19, had tested positive or were in quarantine due to contact tracing early in the week.

UL coach Billy Napier has tested positive for COVID-19.

Related:Three more Cajun basketball games lost to COVID-19

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Roughly half of the 33, Maggard said Wednesday, came up as positive in Tuesday’s antigen tests, which were performed when players began showing symptoms of the virus Sunday and Monday.

“One or two” players, Maggard said according to a program spokesman, tested positive when the regularly planned testing was performed Wednesday.

Earlier this season, the Cajuns were without 13 players as a result of COVID-19 issues for a late September win over Georgia Southern. On Nov. 14, UL was without its band at Cajun Field for a win over South Alabama because of a COVID outbreak in the school's music department.

With Napier the next several days, the Cajuns have not named an interim head coach; his duties at practice essentially are being handled by-committee for now .

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