Bethune-Cookman Won't Play Sports During 2020-21 School Year Amid COVID-19

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2020

Bethune Cookman quarterback Devin Black hands off to running back Aaron Thompson (35) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Miami, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Miami defeated Bethune Cookman 63-0. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Bethune-Cookman University announced Tuesday that it will not play sports during the 2020-21 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

School President Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite released the following statement on the decision to HBCU Gameday (h/t ESPN's Myron Medcalf):

"B-CU will forgo all spring athletic competition, including football and men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball and track and field. The recent spike in COVID-19 positivity rates in the state, across Volusia County [Florida] and on our campus provides clear and unambiguous evidence, in our view, that now is simply not the time to resume athletic competition."

Bethune-Cookman competes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and is a historically black college/university (HBCU).

Per Medcalf, Bethune-Cookman is the first known Division I school to cancel its entire sports slate for the 2020-21 campaign.

Bethune-Cookman football has won eight MEAC championships, including four in a row from 2012 to 2015. The Wildcats also reached the FCS playoffs five times, posting an 0-5 record. The team has posted a winning record in each of the past three seasons and nine of the past 10, including a 7-4 mark in 2019.

The men's basketball team hasn't been as successful, as the Wildcats have never reached the NCAA tournament since the MEAC became a Division I conference in 1980.

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Bethune-Cookman made three Division II NCAA tournament fields before then and has won the MEAC regular-season crown twice (2011 and 2018), but it has yet to win the conference tournament. The Wildcats finished 16-14 last season.

The Bethune-Cookman women's basketball team won the MEAC regular-season title in 2016, 2017 and 2020, and reached the NCAA tournament for the first and only time in 2019. The Wildcats went 23-6 last season, but they were upset by Maryland Eastern Shore in the MEAC tournament.

Bethune-Cookman is located in Daytona Beach, Florida, which is part of Volusia County. According to the New York Times (h/t Medcalf), there have been 544 documented new cases of COVID-19 in Volusia County over the past week.

The MEAC has plans in place to play fall sports in the spring provided the COVID-19 landscape allows for it.