Miami (FL) withdraws from Sun Bowl due to COVID-19
Miami (FL) will not play in Friday’s Sun Bowl against Washington State due to an ongoing COVID-19 situation within its program, the university announced Sunday night.
The Hurricanes first entered COVID protocols last Tuesday, with the Miami Herald reporting at the time that several players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The program pushed back its arrival in El Paso, Texas, until one day prior to the Sun Bowl as it hoped to fend off the spread of COVID affecting multiple position groups.
It was unclear whether the Sun Bowl would find a new opponent for Washington State so the game can go on as scheduled. Three bowl games — the Military Bowl, Fenway Bowl, and Hawaii Bowl — had previously been canceled due to COVID spread.
Although SMU, East Carolina, and Memphis became bowl-eligible teams without bowl games, officials at those schools indicated that players had been dispersed from the teams and they would not anticipate rescheduling in a different bowl. Following the first coronavirus casualty of the bowl season, Rutgers received a late invitation to replace Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl and will face Wake Forest on New Year’s Eve.
“We are extremely disappointed that our football team will be unable to participate in the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl,” Jennifer Strawley, Miami’s deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “But due to the number of COVID-19 cases impacting our roster we do not have enough student-athletes to safely compete, and the health and safety of our student-athletes will always be our top priority. This team worked hard all season to earn a bowl invitation and my heart goes out to our student-athletes, especially our seniors.”
The Hurricanes fired coach Manny Diaz after a 7-5 regular season and hired alum and former Oregon coach Mario Cristobal. Interim coach Jess Simpson was slated to lead the team in the game against the Cougars.
“We regret the impact this has on the Washington State program and their postseason experience,” Strawley’s statement said. “I want to commend the Sun Bowl Association for their tireless work in helping us navigate this situation over the past several days.”
–Field Level Media