The Bronco Mendenhall era for the Virginia Cavaliers appears set to end with a whimper instead of a bowl, as the Wasabi Fenway Bowl has officially been canceled.
Virginia provided additional information on the testing protocols that led to UVA having to withdraw:
In the days leading up to the team’s planned departure date (Dec. 25), some UVA players displayed symptoms associated with COVID-19 and subsequently tested positive for the virus. As a result, the entire team was tested Christmas morning. The completed test results, provided to Virginia athletics on Sunday morning (Dec. 26), revealed additional positive tests that prevent the team from safely participating in the game.
“We are extremely disappointed the team will not be able to participate in the inaugural Fenway Bowl,” said Virginia athletics director Carla Williams in a statement Sunday. “Playing this game was something our team very much looked forward to and it is unfortunate Coach Mendenhall will not have one last opportunity to coach this group.
“We want to thank the Fenway Bowl and its staff for their preparation to host the game and for their communication with us over the past few days,” Williams continued. “We appreciate all of the hard work by our team and coaching staff. They earned this bowl invitation, and it is unfortunate they will not be able to compete in the game to complete the season. We regret how this also impacts our fans who were planning on attending the game as well as the SMU program and its fans.”
Action Network’s Brett McMurphy first reported that the game would be canceled:
Fenway Bowl between Virginia & SMU has been canceled because of COVID issues at Virginia, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. It’s 2nd bowl cancellation after 18 bowls were canceled last year— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 26, 2021
Multiple outlets had previously reported that UVA’s travel plans to Boston for the Fenway Bowl were delayed for a second time due to continued positive COVID tests among the program. Mike Barber was first with the story of the Sunday delays:
Sources: #UVA football won't fly to Boston today as it awaits results from another round of COVID-19 tests. Its appearance in the @FenwayBowl for Bronco Mendenhall's final game, is very much in jeopardy.https://t.co/CdpTeBFCUP— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) December 26, 2021
Wahoos 247’s Jacquie Franciulli confirmed a short time later. McMurphy also reported that UVA’s opponent, SMU, also delayed its travel to Boston.
Sunday’s travel delays came after the team originally pushed its flight back from Christmas evening to December 26th. Running backs coach Mark Atuaia posted a video of his family playing basketball with some of the backs Christmas afternoon:
We’re all supposed to be on a plane headed to Boston; however, uuuhhhh yeah, so we’re making the best of it right now pic.twitter.com/081Mldri57— UVACoachAtuaia (@UVACoachAtuaia) December 25, 2021
Hiring for Tony Elliott’s new staff had been pushed until after the bowl game to allow the current staff to finish what they started under Mendenhall.
Streaking the Lawn will provide updates as they become available.