MEAC sets sports schedule for play in spring

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has a plan for returning collegiate sports in the spring.

It doesn’t include playing in a bubble. Just depending on whether the COVID-19 pandemic is still around and whether programs want to opt out.

According to the MEAC’S announcement last week, the football season will begin next Feb. 27 and run through April 24. Teams will play six regional conference games in two divisions 

A championship game is planned for May 1.

In July, the conference announced suspension of the fall season.

“We appreciate the MEAC for developing a comprehensive plan that would allow our student-athletes the opportunity to compete,” said FAMU Athletic Director Kortne Gosha. “COVID-19 has required our institutions to pivot and adjust to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes and respective campus communities. 

“We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates to our fans, donors, season ticketholders, and campus community as the situations and further schedules develop. Our programs are still on a quest to win MEAC championships.” 

FAMU football celebrates one of its wins over North Carolina A&T.
Photo by Vaughn Wilson

The MEAC’s announcement comes on the recommendation of its Forecasting Committee. It is made up of the conference’s athletic directors of and Senior Woman Administrators, who have been meeting twice each week since April in search of a plan suited to play sports in spite of the pandemic. 

The MEAC also relied on information provided by its Health and Medical Advisory Group that is made up of the league’s team physicians and head athletics trainers.

“As has been the case since this pandemic started in March, the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, university staff and fans are paramount,” said Dennis E. Thomas, commission of the MEAC. “I want to thank both the Forecasting Committee and the Health and Medical Advisory Group for their tireless efforts in formulating this plan.”

Coach Willie Simmons

The conference also plans to start its volleyball season in the in early January and run it through February. A championship tournament is in the works for March 13-14 in Norfolk, Va. 

Basketball and tennis (men’s and women’s), along with baseball and softball also are part of the model announced by the league for regional play. The time that student-athletes spend out of class will also be minimized as well as eliminating air travel and reduce travel expenses overall, the league said.

The makeup of the Northern Division will include Coppin State, Delaware State, Howard, Maryland Eastern Shore, Morgan State, Norfolk State. Teams in the Southern Division are Bethune-Cookman, FAMU, North Carolina A&T State, North Carolina Central and South Carolina State.  

Larry Robinson, president at FAMU, praised the effort to resume sports in the conference.

“We appreciate the MEAC’s forwarding thinking approach of laying out options for fall sports next spring,” Robinson said. “The plan reflects the delicate balance of safeguarding the health of our student athletes while creating an opportunity for on-the-field competition, which is such an integral part of the college experience.”