UCLA Football to Decline a Bowl Invitation
The players on the UCLA football team have opted not to go to a bowl game this season.
Despite having the team’s best record under head coach Chip Kelly, the UCLA football team has decided to decline a bowl invitation this year. The decision was made by the players and is being supported by Kelly, UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond and the UCLA Athletics Department administration.
A UCLA press release quotes Jarmond:
I'm so proud of our student-athletes for how they've conducted themselves this season in order to be able to play the game they love. It's a tremendous credit to them that we have played every weekend so far.
It's also a credit to the many people who have worked behind the scenes to make a season possible. I'd like to thank Chancellor Block and campus leadership for their support as we navigated this 2020 season. The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff has been our North Star throughout the pandemic, but the student-athlete experience is also always at the forefront of my mind. These young men have already sacrificed so much for each other; now is the time for them to shift their focus, be with their families and take a well-deserved break.
It also quotes Kelly:
We are a player-led team, and we listened to our players when it came to making this decision. Our guys have given everything they've had to this season, and I've been so impressed by the maturity and selflessness they've shown. I want to thank our Return to Training Committee and Athletics administration for all of their efforts on our behalf. Our job was to create a safe environment, and our players sacrificed all season long to adhere to that environment. It's a testament to them – and to their families – that we've played a full schedule this year. We are all looking forward to competing together one more time against Stanford on Saturday.
The decision is somewhat surprising, in that, accepting a bowl invitation would allow the team to build on this season by being allowed to train for several more weeks and it will come at a cost for every cash-starved Pac-12 school as UCLA will not contribute towards the conferences earnings from accepting the bowl appearance.
At the same time, given how COVID-19 is raging in Los Angeles County right now, you can’t really blame the players, although UCLA has done an amazing job at keeping them safe from the virus.
The Bruins are just one of two Pac-12 teams to play all six weekends so far and they have had just five positive tests in the program since June.