North Carolina A&T Withdraws from MEAC Tournament Due to Positive COVID Test

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIMarch 12, 2021

North Carolina A&T forward Tyrone Lyons (35) looks to pass the ball as Utah State guard Brock Miller (22) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Logan, Utah. (AP Photo/Eli Lucero)
Eli Lucero/Associated Press

Top-seeded North Carolina A&T was forced to withdraw from the MEAC tournament on Thursday due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program, according to ESPN's Jeff Borzello.

The Aggies were set to make their tournament debut on Friday against the winner of Thursday's quarterfinal matchup between North Carolina Central and Norfolk State. NCAT is 11-10 and had a stellar 7-1 record in conference play to win the MEAC Southern Division regular-season title. 

It's a crushing development as the Aggies are unlikely to make the NCAA tournament without the automatic bid awarded to the MEAC tournament's champion. 

"Obviously, we are tremendously disappointed for the student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans for North Carolina A&T State," MEAC commissioner Dennis E. Thomas said. "They worked extremely hard to get where they are and to have to end [the season] this way is extremely unfortunate. But that's the world we live in today, and hopefully we will have no other positives moving forward for the basketball tournament."

The Aggies were the second team to withdraw from their conference tournament Thursday due to COVID. Duke exited the ACC tournament earlier in the day. 

Either North Carolina Central or Norfolk State will now advance directly to the championship game to face the winner between Coppin State and Morgan State. 

NCAT played a stacked nonconference schedule this year, taking losses against Illinois, Stanford, Ohio, VCU and North Carolina-Greensboro before going on a run through its own league. Now the Aggies won't get a chance to prove they belong with the top 68 teams in the country.

It's a bitter end to what had been a fantastic turnaround.