Photo courtesy of Norfolk State athletics
Yet another college sports conference has suspended fall sports.
This time, it’s the MEAC. The decision was announced on Thursday.
The MEAC is an FCS conference made up of Bethune-Cookman, Delaware State, Norfolk State, Florida A&M, South Carolina State, Howard, Morgan State, North Carolina A&T, and North Carolina Central.
Bethune-Cookman, FAMU, and North Carolina A&T have seemingly played their final games in the conference. A&T will be leaving for the Big South in July 2021. Bethune-Cookman and FAMU are scheduled to join the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) next season. That will leave the MEAC with only six member schools.
“The Council of Presidents and Chancellors of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) announces that the league will suspend all sports competition, championship, and non-championship segments, for the 2020 fall season, as a result of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. A decision is yet to be made on whether fall sports schedules will be moved to the 2021 spring semester.
The conference currently plans to proceed with winter sports competitions as scheduled, unless health and medical professionals advise otherwise. We will apprise the public on further decisions.
The Council of Presidents and Chancellors took this action out of a concern for the safety as well as the physical and mental health of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, support staff, faculty, and fans. The rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases along the eastern seaboard heavily influenced the council’s decision as the data suggests that the African American and other minority communities are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The MEAC is committed to ensuring that the correct measures are in place to reduce exposure to the virus.
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“The health and safety of our student-athletes continue to be our number one priority. We have made the decision to suspend all sports competitions after careful review of the current conditions and consideration of the potential exposure that regular travel to competitions may cause and ongoing extensive physical contact,” said Howard University President and Chair of MEAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick. “While our competitions have been suspended, each member institution will plan ongoing engagement of all student-athletes to ensure optimization of their physical and mental well-being as they continue their matriculation.”
“Obviously this is an arduous decision because everyone wants to have a fall season for student-athletes, fans, and others,” said MEAC Commissioner Dr. Dennis Thomas. “Part of our responsibility is to ensure the mental and physical health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff is paramount. It is imperative that everyone recognize that is our first and foremost responsibility.”
MEAC institutions will continue the resocialization process for student-athletes which encompasses mental and physical health counseling, strength and conditioning protocol, and compliance with all COVID-19 safety requirements.
The MEAC is the first FCS scholarship conference to cancel games for fall 2020.
“The news regarding the suspension of all fall sports, including football was obviously something that we all thought could happen but were hoping wouldn’t,” Florida A&M head coach Willie Simmons said. “We will be working diligently with our administration to develop a solid plan for our student-athletes, coaches, and support staff. We are committed to enduring this adversity.”
FBS conferences such as the ACC and Big Ten have announced switches to conference-only games. The suspension of the MEAC season however, will impact FBS programs.
Florida A&M was scheduled to visit UCF this season. The rivals of both of those schools — Bethune-Cookman and South Florida — were also slated to meet. North Carolina A&T had a date set with Liberty for Sept. 12.