Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt and several other players and coaches have tested positive for COVID-19, meaning Vols will not be able to play in the December 31 AutoZone Liberty Bowl against West Virginia, ESPN sources said. .
Tennessee’s tests were conducted Sunday according to the SEC protocol, and those results were returned Monday morning after Tennessee accepted the invitation to the bowl. Those Tennessee players and employees who tested positive were retested on Monday to confirm the results. Tennessee also conducted a second round of testing for everyone in the football program Monday, to be sure. The combination of positive tests and subsequent follow-up of contacts does not leave Tennessee with enough players or coaches to participate in the bowl game.
Vols lost 34-13 to Texas A&M on Saturday and ended the regular season with a 3-7 record. Assistant coaches Derrick Ansley and Jay Graham missed Saturday’s game with problems with COVID-19, sources told ESPN.
Tennessee is the first SEC team to not be able to play in a bowl game due to COVID-19 problems.
Sources told ESPN that the Liberty Bowl or Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl could be a landing point for the military. The latter would be an option especially if the state of Mississippi should slip in place of Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl. The army went 9-2, but is not in a bowl game.