Daytona Beach, FL - Last week, Bethune-Cookman University President Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite put the school on lockdown, with the looming possibility of returning to online learning. Today (October 27), Chrite has canceled the remaining 2020-21 athletic season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"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."
B-CU is one of the first NCAA Division I institutions to opt-out of all sports for the remainder of the year. The decision comes after meetings with stakeholders across the campus and Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Lynn Thompson. Coaches, medical and public health experts, and state and local officials were also consulted.
"We obviously recognize that other institutions may elect to move forward with spring competition. The decision for us, however, was not a complicated one. The risk premium is simply too high and our priority remains the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff," Chrite said. "As members of the B-CU family constantly engage in various forms of civic engagement, this decision also protects our community partners as well."
Through the pandemic, the dissemination of information on safety protocols and testing has been vital.
"We've administered nearly 6,000 tests since the start of the school year, and up until a little over a week ago, saw remarkably positive results from our testing protocols. Over the past eight days, however, we've noted a sudden spike in cases on campus, hence this decision." Thompson said. "B-CU athletics has survived hurricanes, tornadoes, and a myriad of other challenges. This pandemic has affected us all, including me personally," said Thompson, who lost his own brother-in-law to Covid-19 last month. "Now is not the time for us to roll the balls out and play. It's the time to close ranks and protect our community so that we can remain safe until it's time to play again."
The 2020-21 athletic season is the 40th and final season for B-CU as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Effective July 2021, the Wildcats will become members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).