Presidents and chancellors for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) voted Thursday to suspend all sports competition for the remainder of 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MEAC, which includes Florida A&M University and 10 other historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), plans to proceed with winter sports competition as scheduled, unless health and medical professionals advise otherwise.
FAMU supports the decision as in the best interest of the health and well-being of our student athletes and our fans, said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D.
“The pageantry of fall sports, especially football, is a key part of the Florida A&M University experience; however, given the current trends with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the MEAC’s suspension of fall sports is the right thing to do,” Robinson said. “This decision demonstrates our collective commitment to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and our communities. We ask for your understanding and continued support of our Athletic programs as we plan for the return of competition when the current crisis abates.”
The MEAC announcement comes as student-athletes had begun returning to campus in anticipation of pre-season training, following a spring when competition was shortened because of the pandemic.
FAMU had scheduled three home football games this fall. Athletic Director/Vice President Kortne Gosha expressed disappointment at the news but said it was necessary to protect student-athletes.
“The health and safety our student-athletes are our top priority, but obviously we are disappointed that we will not be able to compete this fall,” Gosha said. “This decision has not been taken lightly, and we are confident that we will continue to work through these challenges together. The mental health of our student-athletes and considerations regarding eligibility are being addressed.”
Coming off the best Rattler season in more than a decade, head football coach Willie Simmons was looking forward to returning to the gridiron.
“It’s shocking news to all of us. Right now, my initial thoughts are to reach out to my team and communicate with them, make sure they are in a place that they could move forward. A lot of individuals will be affected by this decision. Their safety and wellbeing is paramount,” said Simmons. Staff and administrators are working to ensure academic and other concerns of student-athletes are being handled.
“We have to be leaders during this time. As the saying goes, there’s no sense in crying over spilled milk,” Simmons continued. “We have to be very aggressive in our planning moving forward.”
Conference officials have yet to decide whether the fall sports will be moved to the 2021 spring semester.