The Military Bowl Foundation announced Sunday that the 2021 Military Bowl between Boston College football and East Carolina has been canceled due to COVID-19 issues within BC’s program. The game was set to kick off on Monday, Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Md.
Over 40 BC players were unavailable to play in Monday’s matchup, according to a release from BC Athletics.
“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,” Athletics Director Pat Kraft said in the release. “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.”
After opting out of bowl selection in 2020, the Military Bowl was set to be the Eagles’ first bowl appearance under head coach Jeff Hafley, who led BC to consecutive postseason berths with two six-win seasons in his first two years on the Heights.
“This is not the way we wanted to see this season come to an end,” Hafley said in the release. “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.”
Sunday’s cancellation adds to a growing history of bad bowl luck for BC football and marks the second canceled bowl game for BC within the past four years. The 2018 SERVPRO First Responder Bowl between BC and Boise State was canceled and ruled a no contest after lightning strikes sent both teams into a weather delay in the first quarter. The game was the first-ever FBS bowl game to be canceled.
In 2019, after an hour and a half of weather delays temporarily halted play in the first quarter, the Eagles lost 38–6 to then-No. 21 Cincinnati in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl.
After finishing the regular season 6–5, the Eagles opted out of bowl participation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After recording just two positive tests between June and December 2020, BC decided to forgo bowl eligibility for the sake of players’ mental and physical health, and to allow the team to return home for the Holidays after a season altered by COVID protocols.
Monday’s game would have been BC’s first appearance in the Military Bowl and its first matchup against East Carolina. The event also welcomed home 13 BC players from the DMV area.
“This is a terrible situation obviously,” Steve Beck, president and executive director of the Military Bowl, said in a statement. “We appreciate everyone who worked so hard to try to make the game happen. Of course, the health and safety of the players and coaches is top priority. The decision not to play is understandable, but disappointing.”
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Senior Staff