Florida A&M latest to opt out of football

LUT WILLIAMS BCSP Editor

Florida A&M, who was joined by Bethune Cookman when it decided to leave the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference after this season, will now join the Wildcats sitting out MEAC football this spring.

FAMU’s Department of Athletics announced last Thursday its decision to opt out of the 2021 MEAC spring seasons for football, indoor track & field and volleyball.

The decision “was made with the health and safety of our student-athletes as our top priority,” said Florida A&M VP/Director of Athletics Kortne Gosha in the statement.

“This was a collective decision with our coaches and staff, given the varying circumstances that COVID-19 has created for our program. We are certainly disappointed that some of our student-athletes will not be able to compete this year; however, we will shift our focus to achieving our academic priorities while planning a safe return to play in fall 2021, our inaugural season in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.”

FAMU’s decision comes just over two weeks after B-CU shut down its entire athletics program for the rest of the fall and all of the spring season. It also comes just days before an MEAC deadline of Nov. 16 for schools to opt out of scheduled athletics activities.

Back in mid-July, the MEAC suspended the fall sports season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On October 22, the league released a spring football schedule re-aligned to only divisional competition to begin on Feb. 20. In light of pandemic realities, the new alignment and schedule was designed to minimize both travel time and time spent outside of class, reduce travel expenses and eliminate air travel.

The schedule called for the four Northern Division teams to play each other twice. The five Southern Division teams were to play two teams twice and two teams once. Each team was to have two bye weeks.

FAMU and B-CU were to be two of the five schools competing in the re-aligned Southern Division. North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central and South Carolina State are the remaining members of the Southern Division. Norfolk State, Howard, Morgan State and Delaware State make up the Northern Division.

How the football schedule will be changed with B-CU and FAMU pulling out is likely to be unveiled now that the Nov. 16 deadline has passed.

The MEAC Championship football game is scheduled for Saturday, April 16.