Bethune-Cookman announced Monday that it won’t play spring sports, apparently becoming the first Division I school in the country to abandon all athletic competition this academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“B-CU will forgo all spring athletic competition, including football and men’s and woman’s basketball, baseball, softball and track and field,” university president E. LaBrent Chrite said in a letter on the school’s website.
“The recent spike in COVID-19 positivity rates in the state, across Volusia County and on our campus provides clear and unambiguous evidence, in our view, that now is simply not the time to resume athletic competition. While the decision to opt out of spring competition is the only responsible one for us at this time, it was not made lightly.”
The positivity rate in Volusia County has exceeded 5 percent for eight consecutive days and hit almost 12 percent last Tuesday, according to state data.
The historically Black school in Daytona Beach is believed to be the first D-I program in the nation to make this move, which was first reported by HBCU Gameday. The Wildcats were set to open their football season on Feb. 27 against North Carolina A&T. Their women’s basketball team won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s regular-season title last year and began preseason practice last week.
Chrite said in his letter that he knows the decision “greatly impacts our student athletes, our coaching staff, our Marching Wildcats and others” and will be working with administrators to minimize the effects.
“Now is not the time for us to roll the balls out and play,” athletic director Lynn Thompson told The Daytona Beach News-Journal. “It’s the time to close ranks and protect our community so that we can remain safe until it’s time to play again.”
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