The UCLA Bruins will not be playing in Tuesday’s Holiday Bowl at Petco Park due to COVID-19 protocols, the team announced on Twitter just hours before their matchup with North Carolina State was set to take place.
The team did not provide any other details about what forced the team to exit the bowl game but UCLA’s Director of Athletics, Martin Jarmond said in a statement “the health and safety of our students will always be our North Star.
“We are extremely grateful to the Holiday Bowl, students, fans and sponsors and the people of San Diego for their support this week,” the statement read. “We are deeply disappointed for our young men in the football program that worked extremely hard for this opportunity. My heart goes out to them.”
North Carolina State soon after tweeted that the Wolfpack was “heartbroken to not be able to compete one more time this season.”
They said they were just informed that afternoon their opponents pulled out of the matchup.
With the team’s withdrawal, fans who had tickets to Tuesday’s game will be getting a refund. A statement from Petco Park said details regarding the process would be released soon.
“While we are disappointed that the game will not be played tonight, we look forward to future Holiday Bowls at Petco Park in America’s Finest City,” their statement said.
The No. 18 Wolfpack (9-3) and the Bruins (8-4) were set to compete in the first-ever football game at San Diego’s baseball stadium that first opened downtown in 2004.
Thousands turned out for the annual balloon and marching-band parade down the Embarcadero.
The Holiday Bowl, which signed a five-year deal with the padres after its home for 42 years was torn down for a new stadium, has not yet responded to the announcement. Neither have officials for Petco Park.
Both teams said they were following tighter COVID protocols ahead of the matchup.
Ahead of the game, NC State coach Dave Doeren said his players were working to “protect the mission.”
“Prevention’s the best medicine right now,” Doeren said. “Our guys have been through this. They understand how to follow protocols … to protect the mission. We’re here to try to win our 10th game. That’s happened one time in school history. There’s a lot at stake.
“Some of the decisions that we make to try to stay healthy are very important decisions,” the coach added. “They’re selfless decisions that our guys have embraced to get another opportunity to try to beat the odds. That’s kind of what’s going on when you watch college football. There’s a lot of people that aren’t getting done. So these two teams have done that.”
NC State was trying to finish with double-digit wins for just the second time in school history. Its best finish was 11-3 in 2002 behind junior quarterback Philip Rivers.
This is a developing story and will be updated.