Bethune-Cookman is shutting down all its sports through the end of the 2021 spring season amid a recent spike of COVID-19 cases on campus. The decision, announced Tuesday by the school’s president, Brent Chrite, affects women’s basketball, men’s basketball, baseball, softball, baseball, football and track and field.
“While the decision to opt out of spring competition is the only responsible one for us at this time, it was not made lightly,” Chrite said in a letter that went to the school community. “We know that this decision greatly impacts our student athletes, our coaching staff, our Marching Wildcats and others, and I will be working with VP Lynn Thompson and his colleagues to minimize and ameliorate the impact of this decision.”
The Florida-based university, located in Daytona Beach, has been hit hard with the pandemic — as has the state. Just last week, Dr. Chrite announced a campus-wide lockdown and a strict 11 p.m. curfew amid a spike in cases as part of an effort to contain outbreaks on campus. And Volusia County, where the school is located, has seen close to 500 new cases of the virus over the last week, according to The Washington Post.
Financial strain in the midst of the pandemic probably didn’t help the school as it endeavored to pull off a spring season. The MEAC announced this summer that it was moving to a six-game, conference-only football schedule beginning in February, eliminating lucrative “buy games” from the slate that often times help furnish smaller athletic departments with cash by facing bigger programs. Affording rigorous testing protocols and procedures could also have been another financial strain.
Thus far Bethune-Cookman is the only program the MEAC to opt out of the upcoming spring season, but schools have until Nov. 16 to make their decision, the league commissioner, Dennis Thomas, said Tuesday.
Bethune-Cookman will transition from the MEAC to the SWAC in a decision announced earlier this summer, which will be effective July of next year.