football Edit

Military Bowl Canceled Because of BC COVID-19 Outbreak

Photo: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

The Military Bowl between Boston College and East Carolina has been canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak within BC’s program.

The game was set for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff Monday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. BC is down more than 40 players, including an entire position group, because of COVID-19 and injuries, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports.

“This is not the way we wanted to see this season come to an end,” BC head coach Jeff Hafley said in a Sunday 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.”

The Military Bowl is the third bowl game to be canceled this postseason. The Fenway Bowl was also canceled Sunday, and the Hawaii Bowl was canceled Thursday.

BC helped set the standard for COVID-19 prevention in 2020, going 8,000 tests without a positive. The Eagles had just one positive test all year and didn’t miss a game or a practice because of the virus. Before the 2021 season, the program mandated vaccinations, in compliance with university guidelines, and the ruling resulted in the transfer of only one player.

The Eagles steered clear from COVID-19 issues throughout the regular season but got hit with an array of season-ending injuries and, ahead of the finale, a flu outbreak that affected 32 players against Wake Forest, including starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec.

After making the trip to Annapolis, though, BC was confronted with its first COVID-19 surge. Since the emergence of the Omicron variant, sports teams across the country, at all levels, have been scrambling to avoid the newest coronavirus strain. It was too much for BC to overcome.

“Unfortunately, due to cases of COVID-19 rising within our program since our arrival, along with season-ending injuries, opt outs and transfers we just do not have enough players to field a team,” BC Athletic Director Pat Kraft said in a statement.

“We are disappointed not to be able to finish the season together as a team, but the health and safety of our program is our highest priority. Steve Beck and his Military Bowl staff put on a great week for our team, and we are thankful for everything they did to make us feel at home during our stay in Washington, D.C.”

BC began the season as an ACC dark horse full of optimism, returning 81% of its overall production from 2020, the first year of the Hafley era. But a collection of severe injuries, namely a season-threatening hand fracture to Jurkovec in Week 2, pushed the Eagles off course. Jurkovec returned to help BC clinch bowl eligibility for the sixth year in a row.

Except, for the third time in the last six years, that didn’t result in a postseason game actually being played.

BC was the first team to voluntarily opt out of a bowl game last season because of the rigors and restrictions of the COVID-19-affected campaign. Two years before that, the 2018 First Responder Bowl was the first postseason game in NCAA history to be canceled because of weather (lightning).