The Maryland football team paused practices Thursday after a spike in novel coronavirus cases in the athletic department, multiple people with knowledge of the situation said. Those people attributed the spike in cases to sports outside football.

Maryland announced Thursday evening that 46 athletes, spanning 10 teams, tested positive for the coronavirus. The athletic department tested 501 athletes this week. Athletes will be tested again Sept. 8, the statement said, and all athletics activity has been suspended.

Classes at Maryland began this week, but most are being held virtually. After the Big Ten postponed the 2020 football season, Maryland players had a bit of a break before the staff planned to return to a routine for the fall once classes began.

The NCAA’s Division I Council recently approved a plan that allows the teams not playing this fall to practice 12 hours per week. Five hours can be spent on the field for non-contact drills, while the rest of the time can be used for strength and conditioning workouts and meetings.

The Maryland athletes who take part in those team activities will continue to be tested for the coronavirus. Without preparing for a season, it is easier for the team to limit contact at practices and work out in smaller groups.

Maryland hadn’t announced a new case of the coronavirus since July. During screening that took place July 7-8, nine athletes and staffers tested positive, the athletic department said. At the time, Maryland temporarily suspended voluntary football workouts. During screening July 14-15, another three people tested positive. Until Thursday, Maryland had previously announced only 12 positive results.

Maryland releases test results as a combined number for the entire athletic department, so it is not clear how many of the positive results are tied to football.

When the Big Ten postponed the season, the conference said that it hoped to give fall-sport athletes the opportunity to compete during the 2020-21 academic year. The conference has not announced any plans for a postponed football season.

Some parents and players have criticized the conference for not playing this fall, especially with the ACC, Big 12 and SEC set to kick off this month. President Trump spoke with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren on Tuesday, and Trump tweeted that they talked “about immediately starting up Big Ten football.” The Big Ten confirmed the call in a statement and said it will resume competition “at the appropriate time, in the safest and healthiest way possible.”