The top-seeded North Carolina A&T men’s basketball team has been forced to withdraw from the MEAC Tournament after a positive COVID-19 test within the program.
The Aggies were set to play the winner of the Norfolk State-North Carolina Central game.
The following is a release from the MEAC:
NORFOLK, Va. – The North Carolina A&T men’s basketball has withdrawn from the 2021 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championship Basketball Tournament and has ended its season because of a positive COVID-19 test.
N.C. A&T clinched the No. 1 seed out of the MEAC Southern Division with a 7-1 record. The Aggies were scheduled to play Friday at 8:30 p.m., in the MEAC semifinals at the Norfolk Scope Arena. This will mark the second straight season the Aggies will not finish the MEAC tournament. Last season, the Aggies won their quarterfinal game over Howard before tournament officials canceled the tournament because of COVID concerns.
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The Aggies are scheduled to start play in the Big South Conference next season. N.C. A&T Director of Athletics, Earl M. Hilton III has announced the positive test will end the Aggies 2020-21 season. N.C. A&T traveled to Norfolk hoping to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.
“My heart aches so much for these young men,” said Hilton. “To get to this point and have it taken away before we even get a chance to play is devastating. I am proud of the leadership our coaching staff showed. I am proud of our training staff for all the dedication they exhibited, and I am proud of our student-athletes. They did everything we asked of them. The global pandemic has proven to be unpredictable, and its outcomes are often cruel.”
N.C. A&T’s season comes to an end at 11-10.
“I have no words for the news we received today,” said N.C. A&T coach Wil Jones who came into the tournament with a 20-5 record versus MEAC competition. “To not be able to allow these kids a chance to compete is a feeling I can’t explain. Aggie Nation we must rally behind these players. We must celebrate this group. They have done their best to protect the Aggie brand this season.”