Bethune-Cookman University athletics will stay on the sidelines for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
HBCU Gameday reported the news Monday after acquiring a copy of a letter from Bethune-Cookman president Dr. E. LeBrent Chrite.
“The recent spike in COVID-19 positivity rates in the state, across Volusia County and on our campus provides clear and unambiguous evidence, in our view, that now is simply not the time to resume athletic competition,” Chrite’s letter reads. “While the decision to opt out of spring competition is the only responsible one for us at this time, it was not made lightly. 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.”
According to ESPN, Bethune-Cookman — located in Daytona Beach, Fla. — is the first known Division I school to cancel sports for all of 2020-21. The Wildcats had been scheduled to play football this spring in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The men’s and women’s basketball seasons are also off, along with baseball, softball and track and field. The Wildcats are joining the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2021.
“The current pandemic has fortified our commitment to steadfastness in the interests of the health and safety of all members of our community,” Chrite said.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported last week that Bethune-Cookman is currently on lockdown due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
“I know the state has reopened. But that does not give us license to behave as if things are normal,” Chrite said last Wednesday, noting that 30 students are isolated and quarantined on campus. “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.”