CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - For the first time since 2016, the Virginia football team will not participate in a postseason bowl game.
And it’s by choice.
The Cavaliers were projected to earn one of the ACC’s bowl bids, but announced on Sunday they would be declining any invitation.
In a statement from the team on Sunday, head coach Bronco Mendenhall said, “I told our team I valued their feedback and I wanted this to be their decision. 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.”
UVA began training camp on July 5th, and their only opportunities to see immediate family were brief interactions after games, while outdoors, wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
The players and team leaders voted for the opportunity to see family and loved ones at the holidays, rather than maintaining the protocols required to play another football game at the end of the month.
UVA athletic director Carla Williams says, “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. 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.”
Mendenhall adds, “They have all grown tremendously from the challenges put before them this year. But now is the time to return to families and loved ones. This team will always be special for how it handled competing during a pandemic. It is one more example of the amazing capacity and leadership of the young men that allow me to coach them every day.”
Virginia was one of just 17 teams to play 10 games this season and not suffer a postponement or cancellation due to COVID-19 issues within its program.
UVA played in the Military Bowl in 2017, the Belk Bowl in 2018, and the Orange Bowl in 2019.
The Cavaliers finish the 2020 season with a record of 5-5 overall, and 4-5 in the ACC.