Morehouse College has announced it will not participate in fall sports this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
School president David A. Thomas said in a letter to the 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."
Morehouse participates in football and cross-country during the fall season, as well as six other sports over the winter and spring campaigns.
The Maroon Tigers participate in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, an NCAA Division II league consisting mostly of historically Black colleges and universities.
The football team was scheduled to open its 10-game season Sept. 5 versus Edward Waters College at home and finish against Clark Atlanta University on Nov. 7 on the road.
Per ESPN's Chris Low, Morehouse is "believed to be" the first scholarship football program to sit out the 2020 season.
Morehouse, which is located in Atlanta, is the United States' only private, historically Black liberal arts college for men, per the school website.
Morehouse's location complicates its ability to hold athletic events in the fall with the state of Georgia now considered a COVID-19 hot spot. Per Graham Cawthon of WJCL ABC 22, the state had 1,900 new cases over a 24-hour period prior to the Department of Public Health's Friday announcement on the latest figures.
Deaths also increased by 25 over the previous day, and hospitalizations rose by 148.
A vaccine is not currently available and may not be until early 2021, per Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.