Norfolk State is the latest HBCU football to decline to participate in spring football amid coronavirus concerns.
The Spartans became the fifth Division I black college program to opt-out joining Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman, North Carolina Central, and reportedly Alcorn State.
Norfolk State, said athletics director Melody Webb, will prepare for its 2021 fall football schedule.
“Football is a high-impact sport that creates numerous challenges in carrying out a season during this pandemic,” Webb said in a statement. “After careful consideration with members of our coaching staff, university administration and medical personnel, the health, safety and well-being of our football student-athletes prevailed as the number one factor in this decision.”
Head coach Latrell Scott said Monday that decision to prepare for the fall instead of the spring was a difficult one but was driven by “everything going on with the pandemic.”
“With everything that is going on with the pandemic, we want to make sure that all of our decisions are student-athlete driven,” said Scott. “We look forward to being able to compete in the MEAC next fall.”
Also read: ‘We have adapted’: MEAC spring football will go on despite schools’ exodus, shortened schedule
It was during MEAC Media Day last month where Scott described being “thankful” for being on the cusp of playing any season at all after several schools opted out and there seemed to be so much uncertainty with the upcoming schedule.
“We are thankful to the MEAC and thankful to our president and athletic administration for putting us in the situation even to compete,” Scott said in January. “There are a lot of programs around the country, for whatever reason, that they either felt that they couldn’t do it or we didn’t have the resources to do it.”
The MEAC has already adjusted the league slate on three different occasions to compensate teams choosing to not play in the spring. It appears the conference will have to do so again to adapt to the situation at Norfolk State.
“If you would have told me a year or two ago this is the world we’d be living in, I would have told you (that) you had some serious problems,” league commissioner Dennis Thomas said at MEAC Media Day when asked to assess the challenges of the offseason.