No. 23 Texas A&M will have to miss the 2021 Gator Bowl due to a COVID-19 outbreak, as first reported by Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger.
Texas A&M confirmed the news on Wednesday afternoon.
“Due to a combination of COVID-19 issues within the Texas A&M football program, as well as season-ending injuries, the Aggie football roster is not in a position to safely participate in the upcoming Dec. 31 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl against Wake Forest,” the school's release reads.
“It is unfortunate, but we just don't have enough scholarship players available to field a team,” Jimbo Fisher added.
The Aggies were set to face No. 20 Wake Forest (10–3) after an 8–4 season, headlined by a huge win over Alabama. Now, the Demon Deacons will wait to see if a replacement team can be found. According to Dellenger, that team would have to come from another impacted bowl.
The news comes after reports that the Aggies are facing a widespread COVID-19 outbreak within the program. On Tuesday, TexAgs' Billy Liucci reported that the team had “football operations/bowl prep shut down since Saturday,” due to the outbreak among mostly-vaccinated athletes, and that team meetings had been moved to Zoom.
In mid-August, a few weeks ahead of the season, Jimbo Fisher stated that his team had a vaccination rate of 85% and climbing, though with the increased spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19, we've seen a large leap in breakthrough cases across sports and the world at large.
“If a bowl is not played, teams do not receive the payout. Gator Bowl payout is $5.3 [million],” Dellenger adds. “There are no possibilities of a replacement like last year, [Bowl Season executive director] Nick Carparelli has told @SINow. This is why the Gator likely needs another bowl team to dropout.”
The Gator Bowl is scheduled for a Dec. 31 kickoff. It is unclear how many days in advance the event would need to slide in a new opponent for the Demon Deacons.
More College Football Coverage:
- All Aggies: Daily Blitz: Is A&M Already in Trouble in 2022?
- Omicron May Demand a Different Plan From College Athletics
- Michigan to Receive COVID-19 Booster Shot As a Team Ahead of CFP
- Georgia LB Texted Mel Tucker for Advice on Beating Michigan
For more news on the Texas A&M Aggies, head over to All Aggies.