Hawaii bowl game canceled as team pulls out due to COVID, injuries

Memphis traveled to Hawaii on Saturday and had been ready to play

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Hawaii withdrew itself from the Hawaii Bowl game late Thursday evening, a day leading up to the game.

The Rainbow Warriors welcomed the Memphis Tigers for a Christmas Eve matchup until a slew of COVID positive tests and injuries have stacked up to sideline players for Hawaii.

As relayed by USA Today, "about 20 players at Hawaii tested positive for COVID-19."

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Aug 28, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; Hawaii Rainbow Warriors  quarterback Chevan Cordeiro (12) is pressured by UCLA Bruins linebacker Carl Jones Jr. (35) in the second half at Rose Bowl.

Aug 28, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; Hawaii Rainbow Warriors  quarterback Chevan Cordeiro (12) is pressured by UCLA Bruins linebacker Carl Jones Jr. (35) in the second half at Rose Bowl. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

The report notes that Memphis traveled out to Hawaii on Sunday (Dec. 19) and prepared to play the game right up until Thursday’s cancelation.

"We are disappointed our season has to end this way," announced Hawaii head coach Todd Graham. "As competitive as we are and as much as we want to play the game, we cannot put the health and safety of our student-athletes at risk."

Nov 27, 2021; Laramie, Wyoming, USA; Hawaii Rainbow Warriors running back Calvin Turner Jr. (7) celebrates a touchdown against the Wyoming Cowboys during the second quarter at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Nov 27, 2021; Laramie, Wyoming, USA; Hawaii Rainbow Warriors running back Calvin Turner Jr. (7) celebrates a touchdown against the Wyoming Cowboys during the second quarter at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. (Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports)

Hawaii AD David Matlin supported the decision to nix the context. "The health and safety of our student-athletes is the most important part of this decision," Matlin added. "The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has forced us to not participate in the game. We are disappointed for our players, coaches, and fans. ESPN and the EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl staff did everything they could for us and we appreciate their valiant effort throughout the week."

Tigers coach Ryan Silverfield also commented on the abrupt cancelation.

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FILE - The Hawaii team takes the field before an NCAA college football game against Nevada in Reno, Nev., Oct. 16, 2021. The Hawaii Bowl was canceled Thursday, Dec. 23, on the eve of the game after Hawaii withdrew because of COVID-19, season-ending injuries and transfers.

FILE - The Hawaii team takes the field before an NCAA college football game against Nevada in Reno, Nev., Oct. 16, 2021. The Hawaii Bowl was canceled Thursday, Dec. 23, on the eve of the game after Hawaii withdrew because of COVID-19, season-ending injuries and transfers. (AP Photo/Tom R. Smedes, File)

"We hope that Hawai’i players and staff get healthy soon," Silverfield mentioned. "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 Hawai’i as a program and we are sad our trip ended this way."