Miami Hurricanes out of Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl due to COVID-19 issues; replacement sought

The Miami Hurricanes pulled out of the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl on Sunday, five days after announcing the program had been shut down because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Sun Bowl had said it will seek a replacement to face Washington State in the New Year’s Eve game in the event Miami was unable to participate.

Illinois had expressed interest in continuing its season and is one of the highest 5-7 teams in APR (Academic Progress Report), which in normal years is a criteria for selecting a five-win team.

“It is very disappointing that COVID is taking a toll on so many college football teams and bowl games,” Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas said. “As of this moment, the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl game has not been canceled, although the University of Miami has withdrawn from the game. We are currently looking for a possible replacement team, in the hopes of having one to compete against Washington State.”

Washington State arrived in El Paso on Sunday for the long-running bowl game.

“It is disappointing news that the University of Miami is unable to participate in the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl,” Washington State tweeted Sunday night. “We will work with the Pac-12 Conference and the Sun Bowl Association to hopefully find a replacement opponent for the game.”

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The NCAA has said there is flexibility with selecting bowl replacements. That happened with the Gator Bowl this year when Texas A&M pulled out and Rutgers, the 5-7 team with the beat APR, was picked as a replacement.

“We are extremely disappointed that our football team will be unable to participate in the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl,” Miami spokeswoman Jennifer Strawley said. “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.

“We regret the impact this has on the Washington State program and their postseason experience. I want to commend the Sun Bowl Association for their tireless work in helping us navigate this situation over the past several days. We are grateful for their support as an Atlantic Coast Conference bowl partner.”

The Sun Bowl has continued with events for Washington State, which is scheduled to have practice Tuesday.

Bret Bloomquist can be reached at 915-546-6359; [email protected]; @Bretbloomquist on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Sun Bowl: Miami Hurricanes withdraw because of COVID-19 issues