Military, Fenway bowls canceled because of COVID-19 issues

The Military and Fenway bowls were canceled Sunday as a result of COVID-19 issues with participating teams.

Boston College had over 40 players unavailable to play in the Military Bowl against East Carolina on Monday. Virginia also had players test positive for COVID-19, making it unable to travel and play SMU at the Wasabi Fenway Bowl, set for Wednesday.

In a statement, Boston College said it did not have enough players to field a team because of coronavirus issues, season-ending injuries, opt-outs and transfers.

Last season, Boston College made it through the entire year with only one positive COVID-19 case but declined the opportunity to play in a bowl game because of the toll the entire season took on everyone.

BC entered the season with its entire team and staff vaccinated, but the highly contagious omicron variant has led to breakthrough cases across the country.

The Eagles have been in the Washington, D.C., area preparing for the bowl game since Wednesday.

"This is not the way we wanted to see this season come to an end," Boston College coach Jeff Hafley said in a statement. "We just do not have enough players to safely play a game. My heart goes out to our seniors who will not have one final opportunity to wear a BC jersey and I can't thank them enough for all the contributions they made to our program."

Virginia said in a statement that some players tested positive in the days leading up to Saturday, the team's planned departure date for the Fenway Bowl.

As a result, the entire team was tested Christmas morning, and the completed test results revealed additional positive tests Sunday that will prevent the team from safely participating in the game. Before the season began, Virginia was close to 100% vaccination in its program, with exceptions for medical and religious reasons.

The game would have been the final one for Virginia under coach Bronco Mendenhall, who announced his resignation earlier this month.

"We are extremely disappointed the team will not be able to participate in the inaugural Fenway Bowl," Virginia athletic director Carla Williams said in a statement. "Playing this game was something our team very much looked forward to and it is unfortunate Coach Mendenhall will not have one last opportunity to coach this group."

On Thursday, the EasyPost Hawai'i Bowl was canceled after Hawai'i announced it was pulling out of the game against Memphis, citing COVID-19 issues within the program in addition to injuries and transfers. That game had been scheduled to take place Friday in Honolulu.

Nick Carparelli, the executive director of bowl season, tweeted Sunday that college football's COVID-19 protocols that were developed last year "are outdated and need to be adjusted immediately! We are causing more problems than there need to be."

Carparelli later deleted the tweet, but told ESPN's Adam Rittenberg: "Health and safety will always be the most important concern. However, I think the frustrating part is while the virus has evolved and weakened, the protocols in college athletics have not changed. There are other sports organizations, most notably the NFL, that have evolved and are functioning just fine."