Tennessee withdraws from Liberty Bowl due to COVID outbreak within team

Texas A M Tennessee Football
Posted at 6:10 PM, Dec 21, 2020

The University of Tennessee's football season is officially over.

On Monday, Tennessee issued a statement saying they would have to withdraw from the Liberty Bowl because of positive COVID-19 tests within their football program.

According to the Associated Press, the team agreed on Sunday to play West Virginia before announcing Monday. They had to also pause all team activities after receiving their results of Sunday's COVID tests.

The Liberty Bowl is set to take place on Dec. 31 in Memphis.

The team said they decided to withdraw after consulting with health officials, the Southeastern Conference, and officials with the Liberty Bowl.

"The student-athletes and staff affected are taking the appropriate safety measures in accordance with University, CDC, and local health department guidelines," the team said in the news release. "The University of Tennessee extends its sincere appreciation to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and the city of Memphis and is disappointed it will not be able to fulfill its commitment on New Year's Eve."

Third-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt is among those who tested positive.

Pruitt said that other than experiencing mild symptoms he is "doing fine."

"We are obviously disappointed that we will not be able to play in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, but the health and safety of our student-athletes will always remain our top priority," Pruitt said in a statement. "I am especially proud of our team and medical staff in safely navigating through a unique season where we played all 10 of our regular-season games."

The Volunteers finished the season at 3-7.

Officials for the Liberty Bowl did not announce who will replace the Volunteers, the AP reported.

The Vols are the first team to withdraw from a bowl game this season since they were announced.