August 1, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

UCLA will decline invitation to bowl game even if eligible

After mulling the benefits and drawbacks of possibly participating in a bowl game for the first time since 2017, UCLA has decided to decline an invitation even if the Bruins beat Stanford on Saturday to gain postseason eligibility.

The decision, which will be announced by the school later Thursday, comes after consultation with players as well as school and Pac-12 Conference officials, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to disclose the decision publicly.

Coaches and school officials were eager to reward the Bruins (3-3) for their success this season and becoming only one of two Pac-12 teams to play every weekend.

But the desire of many players to spend time with their families after the regular season ends Saturday, plus safety concerns and the lingering uncertainty over when and where a bowl game would be played and how COVID-19 testing and other safety protocols would be implemented, outweighed any longing for what might have been the Bruins’ first bowl game since the 2017 Cactus Bowl.

As part of the sacrifices players have made this season, they received boxed lunches for Thanksgiving and were not allowed to congregate with each other or their families that day.

Players also acknowledged that bowl participation would not have been the normal fun experience this season with so many restrictions that would make activities usually associated with a bowl game impossible.

While the NCAA announced before the season that every team would be eligible for a bowl, UCLA would have needed to beat Stanford (3-2) to gain postseason eligibility because Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott stipulated that teams from his conference needed at least a .500 record. Stanford also decided earlier this week to decline any bowl opportunities.