ATLANTA–Morehouse College announced on Friday that it will not participate in the 2020 college football season. All student-athletes will retain their scholarships and eligibility and this is not a cancellation of the program beyond the upcoming season. The Cross Country team will also not participate this season.
The university made the announcement in an open letter from Dr. David A. Thomas:
Open letter from Morehouse President
Dear Morehouse Community,
I write to inform you that due to the COVID-19 virus, Morehouse College will not participate in intercollegiate athletic competition sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) this upcoming Fall. This will affect our cross country and football sponsored athletic teams. I want all of our scholar-athletes, parents, and alumni to know that the College will honor all athletic scholarship awards.
Like all of the decisions we’ve made related to COVID-19, this was a difficult one but was made with the health and well-being of our students and community in mind. It follows my intention to maintain a safe campus in hopes that our students will be able to return in August. Our Maroon Tiger teams travel to other NCAA institutions and cannot compete without breaking from social distancing guidelines still maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sporting events also invite individuals to our campus who will not be subject to the testing and monitoring that we plan to implement for our students, faculty, and staff.
I know this news will be most disappointing to our scholar-athletes, especially our seniors. I can only ask for your understanding and respect for the fact that the College is prioritizing your health and safety ahead of all else.
We are committed to the principle that our athletes are first and foremost students. Each one was admitted to Morehouse with the expectation that he has the intellectual ability and commitment to finish his degree studies here. We will support each scholar-athlete to realize that central goal that brought him to Morehouse. Our dedicated academic support for our athletes and maintenance of NCAA and SIAC compliance standards will also continue.
This decision does not apply to sports played during the upcoming Winter and Spring athletic seasons. Those decisions will be forthcoming later in the year. If you have questions regarding the implementation of this policy, please contact your head coach or Mr. Ruben Perez, associate athletic director for external operations and strategic communications.
In the last several weeks, we have had to make some hard decisions to cope with the exigencies of COVID-19. I have been grateful for the understanding and support our community has provided the College and me personally. I am extremely optimistic about the College’s future. We will rise out of COVID-19 moment stronger and more focused on delivering our mission. So much of what the country has experienced these last few months makes clear that the world needs Morehouse.
David A. Thomas, Ph.D.
As the statement laid out this move will not affect spring sports at this time. It is not known if other SIAC schools plan to follow the lead of Morehouse and cancel fall sports.
The reality of COVID-19 had already hit Morehouse on the academic side. The school announced last month a series of furloughs that would impact every employee in some fashion at the school. We will continue to follow this developing story.