News reports of USC having to bail on the Gasparilla Bowl started to bounce around the Internet early this afternoon. The Gamecocks had issues related to Covid and too much of the team was locked down due to positive tests and contact tracing for preparation to continue. Thus, Athletics Director Ray Tanner was forced to notify the SEC office that the team would not be able to travel to Tampa to play Saturday. The Gamecocks season, which saw Will Muschamp fired and several players opt out, is over with a 2-8 mark. Shane Beamer is now in charge and will inherit a six game losing streak going into 2021.
Here’s the full statement from Tanner
Our football team has been on campus since the summer preparing for a football season that saw change being the only constant. They had to go through strict COVID testing protocols that were as varied and numerous as any group of young people has had to do. We had a season that was cut short but had to play more Southeastern Conference games than any year in history. Our players, who thrive on the energy from a full Williams-Brice Stadium, played in front of just 20 percent of a stadium, as dictated by state regulations. Our team competed hard all season, despite injuries, positive COVID tests and contact testing, and several opt outs late in the year.
When the NCAA announced in October that it was waiving the minimum wins requirement to participate in bowl games, we knew that the SEC had enough bowl tie-ins, that we would likely get to play in a bowl game. The team was excited to learn Sunday that it would play in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa on Saturday.
However, between members of the coaching staff and student-athletes, COVID and contact tracing has taken a toll too high for us to overcome. I have notified the bowl and the SEC office that we are not able to play in the game on Saturday.
I am proud of this team. Their commitment to represent their program and University, themselves, their families, and their coaches, is second to none. With new head coach Shane Beamer, staff, and student-athletes, we will be ready for 2021 and we’re excited about the future.