Bethune-Cookman opts out of all sports in 2020-21 as a result of COVID-19

Chris Cwik
·2-min read
The Bethune Cookman mascot looks on.
Bethune Cookman sports have opted out of the 2020-21 season. (Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bethune-Cookman University has cancelled all sports for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. The school became one of the first to opt out of the season Tuesday, citing the rise of COVID-19 in the United States.

School president E. LaBrent Chrite said the move was made after the university “concluded that the risks are too great for our student-athletes.”

"In the face of a surging COVID-19 spike across much of the country and the State of Florida, we have concluded that the risks are too great for our student-athletes and staff to travel and compete at this time," Chrite said. The university has ceased all student athletic activities until further notice, out of an abundance of caution. "The health and safety of our student-athletes, as well as our coaches, staff and fans will always be our top priority."

Bethune-Cookman, a historically Black college, was set to begin its 40th and final season in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Bethune-Cookman will join the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2021.

Chrite said the decision to opt out was “not a complicated one.” Vice President for intercollegiate athletics Lynn W. Thompson said the university initially “saw remarkably positive results” with its campus coronavirus testing, but those numbers spiked in the past eight days, leading to this decision. Bethune-Cookman is located in Florida, where COVID-19 cases have seen a significant increase the past week.

Bethune-Cookman was listed on MEAC football, basketball schedules

The decision must have come as a surprise to the MEAC, because the conference listed Bethune-Cookman on its 2020-21 men’s and women’s basketball and football schedules just days before the university’s announcement. On Oct. 22, the conference released schedules for those three sports, and even announced 2020-21 men’s basketball preseason honors, which included one player from Bethune-Cookman’s team.

The university did not announce when it would resume play, only saying it would keep its community safe “until it's time to play again.”

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