David Thomas isn’t your normal academic. President of one of the nation’s most esteemed Black colleges, Thomas once played center and linebacker on the football field and, as a foreign-exchange student, competed overseas in basketball. He realizes the cultural significance of sports and understands its place in the world.
That’s why his decision to cancel Morehouse College’s 2020 football season is so jarring.
“We can’t,” answers Thomas in an interview this weekend with Sports Illustrated, “or at least I’m not smart enough to know how we can. Every president and athletic director needs to look at [the positive tests]. We’re only in the training portion, and we’re having these test results come back. How can we go forward with a season, given what we know about the virus, and think we won’t accelerate transmission?”
The immediate fate of college football has never felt so fragile. In the small-college ranks of the sport, many believe Morehouse has paved the way for other programs to do the same. Small universities and historically black colleges are seriously toying with the idea of scrapping the 2020 season.
In fact, Kenn Rashad, editor and publisher of HBCUSports.com, says a false narrative exists that the pandemic has so financially impacted Black colleges that they cannot function. It’s just not true. No HBCU has returned to voluntary workouts because of safety reasons, not financial. “Given the situation with the pandemic and we’re seeing an uptick in positive results, we still have institutions calling in these athletes and in some cases asking them to sign waivers,” says Rashad. “You don’t see HBCUs doing this. It’s a testament to them that they truly have in mind the safety of the student-athletes first and foremost.”
Read the rest at Sports Illustrated.