Coronavirus: University of Miami backs out of Sun Bowl due to COVID-19

EL PASO, Texas — The University of Miami football team is withdrawing from Friday’s Sun Bowl due to COVID-19 issues, bowl officials said Sunday.

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Sun Bowl officials said they are working to find a replacement to play the Washington State Cougars, who arrived in El Paso, Texas, earlier Sunday, KVIA-TV reported.

A bowl spokesperson told the television station that the game has not been canceled.

“We are extremely disappointed that our football team will be unable to participate in the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl,” Miami deputy director of athletics Jennifer Strawley 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. I also want to thank Interim Head Coach Jess Simpson and our football staff for all of their efforts in preparation for this bowl game.”

The Hurricanes’ COVID issues surfaced Tuesday when the team altered a scheduled practice to a walkthrough after multiple players tested positive for the coronavirus, the Miami Herald reported. University officials began speaking with representatives from the Sun Bowl on Wednesday and eventually decided to delay their trip to Texas until Thursday, hoping its virus issues would be under control in time to play safely.

Miami’s decision comes on the same day two bowl games scheduled for this week were canceled.

>> Coronavirus: Fenway, Military bowls canceled due to COVID-19 outbreaks

The Hurricanes and Cougars were entering the game with 7-5 records.

The Fenway Bowl, set for Wednesday in Boston, was canceled because the University of Virginia, scheduled to face SMU at Fenway Park, did not have enough healthy players to participate, ESPN reported.

The Military Bowl, which had been scheduled for Monday in Annapolis, Maryland, had to be called off because Boston College also did not have enough healthy players on its roster, according to The Associated Press. The Eagles were set to face East Carolina at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Miami is the fifth team to withdraw from a bowl game this season due to COVID-19 protocols, CBS Sports reported.

Virginia had to opt-out of the Fenway Bowl against SMU, and Boston College withdrew from its Military Bowl matchup against East Carolina. Hawaii’s roster issues caused the cancellation of the Hawaii Bowl, and Texas A&M dropped out of the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest. Rutgers stepped in to replace the Aggies for the bowl game in Jacksonville, Florida.

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