Bethune-Cookman opts for no sports in 2020-21

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Bethune-Cookman, a historically Black college in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, will not play sports during the 2020-21 school year, a move that impacts men’s and women’s basketball and football, a source confirmed to ESPN.

HBCU Gameday first reported the news.

“B-CU will forgo all spring athletic competition, including football and men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball and track and field,” Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite, the school’s president, said in a letter published by HBCU Gameday. “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, which will move to the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2021, is the first known Division I institution to cancel sports for the entire school year. This is a move other schools might face due to financial challenges and concerns about the coronavirus.

The university is currently on lockdown with more than 30 students in quarantine after 15 tested positive for COVID-19 between Oct. 16-21.

“I know the state has reopened, but that does not give us license to behave as if things are normal,” Chrite said in a video posted to Facebook last week. “They are not, and we will pay a price — including going back to a fully online learning environment — if we don’t do better. No one wants that.”

Programs such as Minnesota and Stanford have eliminated some sports. Ohio State recently announced that it’s facing a sizable deficit. UC-Riverside, a school in the Big West, is currently trying to save its entire athletic department from elimination.

Bethune-Cookman, located in Daytona Beach, Florida, operates on a $15 million athletic budget, per U.S. Department of Education data.

A source said members of the athletic department have dealt directly with the impact of COVID in their families and immediate circles.

Over the past seven days, Volusia County, where Bethune-Cookman is located, has had 544 cases, or 98 per 100,000, per the New York Times. Overall, cases in Florida have increased by 39% over the past 14 days.

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