After making an announcement late last year that Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football will return in the spring, NCCU Football has withdrawn its name from the spring competition.
NCCU athletics released a statement on Thursday afternoon after growing concerns about the “health, safety, and well-being of his student-athletes because of COVID-19.”
“Our priority is to always provide the best academic and athletic experience for each student-athlete, and delivering this news to members of our football program was difficult,” said Dr.Ingrid Wicker McCree, NCCU Director of Athletics.
McCree expressed how she was “disappointed” on not being able to compete this spring but the overall well-being of the student-athletes was the deciding factor in their decision.
The MEAC had implemented a plan to start the spring season with seven teams in the conference making up two divisions: Northern division and Southern division. The team with the best record in each division will face off on April 17 for the MEAC championship.
The Eagles are the third team to opt-out of playing in the spring due to COVID-19 after Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M withdrew their names from participating.
This spring would have been NCCU’s last time to battle rival North Carolina A&T for a conference championship as the Aggies announced that be joining the Big South in the fall.
NCCU Head Coach Trei Oliver explained how it was a tough decision not to play but there were other concerns besides COVID-19 that were considered.
“We evaluated our student-athletes after completing their first week of workouts this semester and determined we would not be physically prepared by the start of the season,” said Oliver. ”Football is a high-impact sport and a violent game. I know it is not in the best interest of our student-athletes to attempt to play and risk a catastrophic injury. As a competitor, you try to do all that you can to play, but I am not
going to risk the well-being of my players.”
After experiencing growing pain in his inaugural season as head coach, Trei Oliver will look to take his young team back to MEAC championship status of recent years.
The team will continue their traditional spring practice campaign in order to prepare to compete in the fall 2021 season, according to NCCU athletics.