South Carolina running back Kevin Harris (20) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Gasparilla Bowl was canceled Tuesday after South Carolina withdrew because of COVID-19 issues within the program.

Gasparilla Bowl executive director Scott Glaser said organizers tried to find an opponent for UAB for Saturday's game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, but came up empty.

“The current environment has presented many challenges,” Glaser said.

The Gamecocks, who finished 2-8, opted out due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the program.

“Until next year, Blazer Nation!” UAB football tweeted shortly after ESPN Events' called off the game.

The decision also closes the books on one of the more forgettable South Carolina seasons in recent years.

The school fired coach Will Muschamp in November and ended its all-Southeastern Conference schedule with six straight losses. Former Oklahoma assistant Shane Beamer, the son of ex-Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, was hired earlier this month to take over the program.

The younger Beamer had hoped a final game might give the team something to build on heading into the offseason.

Athletic director Ray Tanner said the team was excited about playing UAB in a bowl game. However, the positive tests among staffers and players and subsequent contact tracing “had taken a toll too high for us to overcome," he said.

UAB (6-3) won its second consecutive Conference USA championship over the weekend.

The Gasparilla Bowl becomes the 17th bowl to be canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Liberty Bowl lost Tennessee earlier this week, and Army stepped in for the matchup with West Virginia.

Bowl season began Monday when Appalachian State's Camerun Peoples ran for an FBS bowl record 317 yards and matched another mark with five touchdowns in a 56-28 win over North Texas in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.


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