There will be no spring football in the MEAC.
The conference announced Thursday that it is suspending the 2021 spring season after six of the league’s nine football-playing schools opted out since October.
“While it is tremendously disappointing to suspend the spring 2021 football season, it is the right decision with regards to the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans,” MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas said. “As I have stated since the beginning of the pandemic, health and safety will continue to be at the forefront of every decision. We support those institutions who will continue to play.”
MEAC policy states if 50% or more institutions cannot participate in any championship (season), the championship for that sport will be suspended.
The conference joins the Ivy League as the only FCS leagues to not play football during the spring.
The move comes days after Norfolk State opted out on Monday, joining Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman, and North Carolina Central which did so in recent months because of COVID-19 concerns. The league has been forced to revise its schedule on three different occasions during the offseason as a result of the shuffling.
The MEAC originally set a Nov. 16 deadline for schools to forgo spring sports but that was before several programs became impacted by the virus leading up to and after preparations for competition began.
Morgan State, one of the latest MEAC schools to opt-out, explained its thinking was based on counsel with in-house medical experts.
“Morgan has decided not to compete during this spring 2021 football season. Our decision is centered on the health and safety concerns for our student-athletes and advice of our medical professionals,” said Edward Scott, the school’s athletics director. “Our focus remains dedicated to making the best decisions for Morgan Athletics based on the available information and the guidance of our medical professionals as we continue to navigate this global pandemic.”
North Carolina A&T athletic director Earl Hilton told the Greensboro News & Record that “the juice is not worth the squeeze,” in terms of attempting to play this spring. The program announced last February that it would be moving to the Big South after 2021.
Delaware State, Howard and South Carolina State, however, have expressed an intent to move forward with spring football, said Thomas. Those schools will follow the ongoing protocols they have outlined at their schools and continue to align with the CDC guidelines and the NCAA’s health and safety provisions that have guided collegiate athletics throughout the academic year.
The MEAC will move forward with plans for a fall 2021 season.