U-M cancels Oct. 15 presidential debate over coronavirus

Another high-profile event bites the dust in the age of COVID-19. The University of Michigan has cancelled its presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 15.

Officially announced Tuesday morning, the debate, which would have been the second of three debates between President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, was scheduled for the Crisler Center where the school's basketball team plays.

“It is with great disappointment that I must ask for the University of Michigan to be released from its agreement with the Commission on Presidential Debates to host the Presidential Debate on Oct. 15, 2020," said President Mark Schlissel.

While the president called the opportunity to host the vent a "tremendous opportunity," Schlissel also said hosting the debate wasn't "feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate as planned."

“Given the scale and complexity of the work we are undertaking to help assure a safe and healthy fall for our students, faculty and staff and limited visitors — and in consideration of the public health guidelines in our state as well as advice from our own experts — we feel it is not feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate as planned."

While many states are reopening their businesses and freeing up travel restrictions, very few have seen rate decreases in new COVID-19 cases like Michigan. Even so, health officials do anticipate a second surge of new cases in the later part of the summer and fall.

The university announced its return-to-school plans for the fall semester on Monday. It will feature in-person and remote learning options for students enrolled in the 2020-21 school year. 

The original debate scheduled for mid-October will now take place in Miami, Florida. The other two debates are scheduled for Sept. 29 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. A vice presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 7.