Just days before the start of the college basketball season, one HBCU program has decided it would not be in its best interest to participate in the middle of a pandemic.
The Florida A&M women’s basketball team announced it will not compete during the 2020-21 season because of COVID-19 concerns.
“We are very disappointed but obviously we are taking concerns and circumstances within the women’s basketball program and COVID-19 very seriously. Student-athletes’ health and safety is and will remain our top priority,” vice president and director of athletics Kortne Gosha said in a statement. “The department of athletics and the university are committed to adhering to all COVID-19 protocols and making sure we keep every Rattler student-athlete safe.
“We will continue to support our student-athletes as they navigate these difficult times. We apologize to our scheduled opponents, as we know this will present scheduling challenges. However, we must keep student-athlete safety as our number one priority.”
The statement indicated that FAMU began preseason camp with a limited number of players on the roster and with a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the school “has been determined that moving forward would not be feasible.”
The NCAA directed all member schools to provide student-athletes with an option to “opt-out” of competition this year due to concerns of the virus. In doing so, the NCAA will allow the student-athletes to keep that year of eligibility.
First-year head coach Shalon Pillow also expressed disappointment over the cancelation of the season.
“I’m disappointed for my two seniors and the young ladies who have worked very hard to get to this point,” Pillow said. “However, the safety and health of our student-athletes is our top priority. Although this was a tough decision, we will continue to support our young ladies during this time.”
This decision comes weeks after the Florida A&M football team decided it will forgo participating in the upcoming spring season.