SAN DIEGO- The Holiday Bowl became the fifth postseason college football game to be canceled when UCLA was forced to pull out just hours before Tuesday’s kickoff because of COVID-19 issues with the team.
The Bruins were scheduled to face No. 18 North Carolina State at Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres.
A surge in COVID-19 cases across the country has disrupted a second straight bowl season.
The Hawaii, Military, Fenway and Arizona bowls have already been canceled due to virus outbreaks leaving teams without enough available players. The Sun and Gator bowls have had to scramble to find replacement teams for their games.
North Carolina State is the fifth Atlantic Coast Conference team to have its bowl disrupted by the virus.
Miami, Virginia and Boston College all had to withdraw from their games. Wake Forest is set to play in the Gator Bowl, but will face Rutgers instead of Texas A&M as originally scheduled.
Coaches Dave Doeren of NC State and Chip Kelly of UCLA spoke Monday about tightening protocols to assure their game would be played. The cancellation has to have stung the Wolfpack, whose goal was to finish with double digit wins for just the second time.
“Prevention’s the best medicine right now,” Doeren said then. “Our guys have been through this. They understand how to follow protocols … to protect the mission. We’re here to try to win our 10th game. That’s happened one time in school history. There’s a lot at stake.”
UCLA’s football team is the fourth Bruins program sidelined due to COVID-19 issues, joining both basketball programs and gymnastics.
Petco Park had to be modified so a football field would fit. The Holiday Bowl needed a new home after 70,000-seat SDCCU Stadium was razed to make room for San Diego State’s new stadium.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten became the latest conference to tweak its forfeit policy, joining the other Power 5 conferences, the Big East and most others. The Big Ten said games won’t automatically be forfeited if a team or teams are unable to participate due COVID-19. Instead, games can be rescheduled, declared a no contest or a forfeiture.