SAN DIEGO — The organization that runs the Holiday Bowl is suing the Pac-12 Conference and the University of California Regents because UCLA backed out of the 2021 game citing COVID-19 concerns.
The San Diego Bowl Game Association is seeking a minimum of $3 million in compensatory damages in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in California Superior Court in San Diego County.
UCLA announced less than five hours before it was supposed to kick off against North Carolina State on Dec. 28, 2021, that it was pulling out of the game after three defensive linemen tested positive for COVID-19.
The 10-page filing comes more than 17 months after negotiations between the bowl organization and the Pac-12 failed to come to a resolution. The filing by the bowl organization alleges “a failure of defendants to accept responsibility and accountability for their conduct, which caused substantial damages to plaintiff.”
The bowl game organization says it lost nearly $8 million due to the cancellation, including $3.6 million in ticket revenue and $1.4 million that had to be returned to the game’s title sponsor.
The bowl organization has not paid Oregon or the Pac-12 the $2.45 million it owes for the Ducks’ participation in the 2022 game, saying it would be applied toward damages for the cancellation of the 2021 game.
The Pac-12 said in a statement: “Despite the Pac-12’s good faith efforts to find an amicable and fair resolution, the Holiday Bowl filed a lawsuit this week seeking to leverage for its own financial gain the global COVID-19 pandemic which led to the cancellation of the 2021 Holiday Bowl. The Holiday Bowl is now also refusing to pay the fees it owes the Pac-12 for our member institution’s participation in the 2022 Holiday Bowl, in clear breach of our agreement.
“The Pac-12 plans to vigorously defend against the lawsuit, which is wholly without merit, and to seek the monies owed by the Holiday Bowl under our agreement.”
UCLA representatives declined to comment on the lawsuit.