Memphis‘ season ended Thursday when the Hawaii Bowl announced the game was canceled after Hawaii said it couldn’t participate due to COVID-19 issues, injuries and transfers.
The Hawaii Bowl was scheduled for Friday but in a statement posted to Twitter, the bowl officially announced that the game would not be rescheduled.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes is the most important part of this decision,” Hawaii athletics director David Matlin said in the school’s statement announcing they were bowing out of the game. “The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has forced us to not participate in the game. We are disappointed for our players, coaches, and fans. ESPN and the EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl staff did everything they could for us and we appreciate their valiant effort throughout the week.
“We want to thank the Memphis Tigers for making the long trip to Hawai’i. We are disappointed we can’t compete on the football field.”
Memphis has been in Honolulu since Sunday and held its final practice Thursday morning. They were scheduled to leave Friday evening following the game.
“We are very disappointed to hear that Hawai’i will be unable to participate in the EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl on Friday,” Tigers coach Ryan Silverfield said in a statement. “We hope that Hawai’i players and staff get healthy soon. I’m upset for our seniors and the rest of the team that battled this season to earn this opportunity. We’ve had terrific time here in Hawai’i as a program and we are sad our trip ended this way.”
According to a report from the Honolulu Star Advertiser, about 20 players at Hawaii tested positive for COVID-19. During his availability Thursday, Silverfield said that he was in contact with Hawaii coach Todd Graham and officials to stay updated on their status.
“We are disappointed our season has to end this way,” Graham said. “As competitive as we are and as much as we want to play the game, we cannot put the health and safety of our student-athletes at risk.”
The Hawaii Bowl said that “while we are disappointed that the bowl will not be played despite considerable efforts from our many stakeholders, sponsors, supporters, and volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this game a reality, we thank the University of Memphis program and its fans for making the long trip, and we hope they were able to enjoy the unique experience that this event offers in the Aloha State.”
Memphis will finish the year 6-6, its fewest wins in a season since 2013.
Contributing: Erik Hall.