Texas A&M withdraws from Gator Bowl over COVID-19 issues, injuries

The Aggies reportedly only had 38 scholarship players, including just 13 on defense

Texas A&M announced Wednesday that it will no longer participate in next week’s Gator Bowl after not having enough players available to compete, in part because of COVID-19.

The Aggies’ athletic department released a statement confirming that the university was forced to resign from the Dec. 31 game against Wake Forest because of a combination of "season-ending injuries" and COVID-19.

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"It is unfortunate, but we just don't have enough scholarship players available to field a team," head coach Jimbo Fisher said.

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher reacts to an official's call during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Mississippi, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Oxford, Miss.

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher reacts to an official's call during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Mississippi, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

"It is heartbreaking for our players, coaches, staff and fans that we are not able to play in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl," Texas A&M director of athletics Ross Bjork added. "As we have learned in the last 21 months of this health challenge, the well-being and safety of our student-athletes is paramount. Our players poured their heart and soul into this season and we appreciate their dedication as Aggies. Aggie football is on track for long-term success and we know that the best is yet to come."

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According to college football insider Brett McMurphy, the Aggies only had 38 scholarship players, including just 13 on defense. 

Seth Small #47 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates kicking a 28 yard field goal to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide at Kyle Field on October 09, 2021 in College Station, Texas.

Seth Small #47 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates kicking a 28 yard field goal to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide at Kyle Field on October 09, 2021 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Aggies had an up-and-down season where they went 4-4 in Southeastern Conference play. They beat Alabama on Oct. 9 when the Crimson Tide was ranked No. 1 but wrapped up the season with a disappointing 27-24 loss at LSU.

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Wake Forest is reportedly still interested in playing but the only way the game would still go on is if another team were to drop out of another bowl game, ESPN reported. 

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman (10) passes under pressure from Boston College defensive end Marcus Valdez (97) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Boston. 

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman (10) passes under pressure from Boston College defensive end Marcus Valdez (97) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Boston.  (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

The outlet said the Gator Bowl is "aggressively" working with the NCAA to find a replacement. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.