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Hawaiʻi Bowl canceled after Hawaiʻi pulls out due to COVID among players, staff

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Tom R. Smedes/AP
FR171463 AP
The Hawaiʻi team takes the field before an NCAA college football game against Nevada in Reno, Nev., Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Tom R. Smedes)

COVID-19 has claimed another sporting event casualty — this time the EasyPost Hawaiʻi Bowl.

The University of Hawaiʻi football team was scheduled to play the Memphis Tigers in the game on Friday at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletic Complex.

But UH officials said due to COVID infections on the team, as well as season-ending injuries and defections to the transfer portal, the team was canceling its participation in the game.

Hawaiʻi athletic department spokesperson Derek Inouchi said about 30 players and staff recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Head Coach Todd Graham said despite their desire to play, they could not put the health and safety of players at risk.

UH Athletics Director David Matlin echoed Graham’s sentiments and thanked Memphis for making the trip to Hawaiʻi.

The Hawaiʻi Bowl is one of several postseason games ESPN owns and operates.

“While we are disappointed that the bowl will not be played despite considerable efforts from our many stakeholders, sponsors, supporters, and volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this game a reality, we thank the University of Memphis and its fans for making the long trip, and we hope they were able to enjoy the unique experience that this event offers in the Aloha state,” ESPN said in a statement.

Hawaiʻi finished the season 6-7, getting into the bowl because there were no available 6-6 teams. Memphis finished 6-6.

“We are very disappointed to hear that Hawaiʻi will be unable to participate," Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said in a statement. “We hope that Hawaiʻi players and staff get healthy soon. I’m upset for our seniors and the rest of the team that battled this season to earn this opportunity. We’ve had a terrific time here in Hawaiʻi as a program and we are sad our trip ended this way.”

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