Add the MEAC to the list of HBCU and FCS conferences who won’t be stepping onto the field this season.
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Council of Presidents and Chancellors has decided it will not play football in 2020, sources tell HBCU Gameday.
At least two MEAC schools, North Carolina A&T and Florida A&M, have had student-athletes test positive for COVID-19 since returning to campus in July.
This decision comes one week after the two Division II HBCU conferences, the CIAA and SIAC, announced their decision to shut down football competition for fall 2020. Other FCS conferences, including the Ivy League and the Patriot League, will also sit out the 2020 fall season.
This decision means no MEAC/SWAC Challenge and no Celebration Bowl in 2020.
The conference was set to kick off its 50th football season this year.
The MEAC released the following statement just after noon on Thursday, confirming the news.
NORFOLK, Va., July 16, 2020 – The Council of Presidents and Chancellors of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) announces that the league will suspend all sports competition, championship, and non-championship segments, for the 2020 fall season, as a result of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. A decision is yet to be made on whether fall sports schedules will be moved to the 2021 spring semester.
The conference currently plans to proceed with winter sports competitions as scheduled, unless health and medical professionals advise otherwise. We will apprise the public on further decisions.
The Council of Presidents and Chancellors took this action out of a concern for the safety as well as the physical and mental health of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, support staff, faculty, and fans. The rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases along the eastern seaboard heavily influenced the council’s decision as the data suggests that the African American and other minority communities are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The MEAC is committed to ensuring that the correct measures are in place to reduce exposure to the virus.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes continue to be our number one priority. We have made the decision to suspend all sports competitions after careful review of the current conditions and consideration of the potential exposure that regular travel to competitions may cause and ongoing extensive physical contact,” said Howard University President and Chair of MEAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick. “While our competitions have been suspended, each member institution will plan ongoing engagement of all student-athletes to ensure optimization of their physical and mental well-being as they continue their matriculation.”
“Obviously this is an arduous decision because everyone wants to have a fall season for student-athletes, fans, and others,” said MEAC Commissioner Dr. Dennis Thomas. “Part of our responsibility is to ensure the mental and physical health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff is paramount. It is imperative that everyone recognize that is our first and foremost responsibility.”
MEAC institutions will continue the resocialization process for student-athletes which encompasses mental and physical health counseling, strength and conditioning protocol, and compliance with all COVID-19 safety requirements.
Further updates will be made as so warranted.