Boston College says it will not participate in a bowl game, becoming the first bowl-eligible team to announce it would not play in the postseason.
Athletic director Pat Kraft and coach Jeff Hafley said the decision was made as a team, after getting significant player input. They pointed to everything the players had to do to make it through a season during the coronavirus pandemic, including not being able to see friends and family after they returned to campus over the summer. In addition, there were no guarantees that any bowl they would have been selected to play in would go on as scheduled.
Since students returned to campus in late June, Boston College has administered more than 9,000 COVID-19 tests. Only one football player tested positive, in the final week of the regular season. Hafley said he noted during practice last week that his team was mentally and physically exhausted.
"For them to stay healthy and stay away from COVID, it took more out of them than anybody has any idea," Hafley said on a Zoom call with reporters. "They're worn out. As we look now with other teams continuing to battle COVID, it's getting worse, and for us to go through three weeks of practice, continue to stay healthy, continue to stay away from our families and then not know is the bowl game really going to happen? Are we going to miss Christmas with our families and then be told on the 25th that we're really not going to play?
"These kids want to play football, but 11 games, nine in a row at one point, without having their mom or dad there after the game to hug them or say hello, the mental health of these kids is more important to me than anything. We decided the biggest reward we could give these players was to be able to go and let them finish finals and go spend time with their families. They've earned it, and they deserve it."
Boston College ends its season 6-5. Its five ACC wins are its most since 2009.
"The way we went about things this year because the COVID-19 pandemic has been going on is how precious and how vital each game and each moment is," linebacker Max Richardson said. "In June, we didn't know whether we'd be able to play one game or not, so playing 11 is a bit of closure in itself."