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Nov. 27, 2004

CHARLOTTESVILLE – Today University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III announced that the University’s football team would decline an invitation to a bowl game if it were scheduled during the University’s final exam period – Dec. 13 through Dec. 21.

“It is important for the University to send the right message to its students, faculty, and alumni that academics come first at U.Va., and that we cannot disrupt the final exam schedule for a sporting event,” Casteen said. “This was a decision made in the best interests of all our students – including students who play football.”

Casteen said he was disappointed that the bowl schedule may be in direct conflict with some university exam schedules. “We have an excellent team and we are eager for the players and the coaches to have an opportunity to conclude a terrific season at a bowl game, but not at the expense of the academic calendar.”

Earlier this week, when Casteen was briefed on a potential scheduling conflict – depending on how the regular football season ends – he consulted with the University’s provost, the athletics director and members of his staff. They discussed what might happen if U.Va. is invited to play in a bowl game during exams, and together concluded it would be detrimental to the University community.

This is the first time the University has faced such a dilemma. Previously, bowl games in which U.Va. participated coincided with the University’s holiday schedule.

While Craig K. Littlepage, UVa’s director of athletics, said he hopes the University would not be faced with having to make such a decision, he believes it is the right one.

Al Groh and his players have had an outstanding regular season and are certainly deserving of a bowl invitation,” Littlepage said. “But they all understand the impact of preparing for and playing in a bowl game during final exams. Such a major event impacts the entire University community – especially on our players, student managers and trainers, band members and cheerleaders. All of our students should be focused primarily on studying at that time. There will still be a number of good bowl options available to us this year.”

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