Virginia is not going to a bowl game this season.
A week before bowl announcements are due, on Dec. 20, the Cavaliers announced Sunday that their football season is over and they will not be entertaining an invitation to a postseason game. The school said the decision came after the program’s captains and other leaders met with the team to discuss the postseason.
The NCAA waived bowl eligibility requirements this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Virginia (5-5, 4-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) had its regular season end Saturday in a 33-15 loss at Virginia Tech. Virginia fell short of the ACC’s desire that all schools play 11 games, including 10 in conference, when its game at Florida State was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns on game day. The Cavaliers declined a subsequent rescheduling.
“Unless you live it each and every day, it is impossible to understand the mental, emotional and physical sacrifice these young men have made since their return in July,” Virginia athletic director Carla Williams said. “I am proud of their commitment and their incredible maturity. Our students did everything we asked them to do and they were rewarded with the opportunity to compete in the sport they love when many doubted it could be done. The life lessons gained over the last nine months will serve them well.”
Coach Bronco Mendenhall, whose team began returning to campus July 5, said he left the decision up to the team.
“I told our team I valued their feedback and I wanted this to be their decision,” he said in a statement. “Just as we met at the beginning of the year to make the choice to play, this was their choice to end the season at this time. I think it is appropriate for this team.”
The decision came after team captains met with the rest of the players on Sunday.
“My teammates voted me as captain, they put their trust in me. So for me it’s, whatever they want to do, is what I want to do. I don’t want to force guys that don’t want to play football into a game,” wide receiver Terrell Jana said after the loss to the Hokies.
“And also, I don’t want to take that opportunity away from them. I know this would be one of the few teams that goes to four bowl games in a row, and then I don’t think any team has ever gone five in a row. So I don’t want to take the opportunity away from the guys below us, but at the same time, I just want to hear them out, hear what they want to say, and as a team we will come together and make a decision.”
By HANK KURZ Jr. AP Sports Writer