Bethune-Cookman, an Historically Black University, leads the way in canceling all sports for the 2020-21 academic year

By Joel Alderman

Up until now, the Ivy League held the distinction of being the first to cancel its post-season basketball tournament, and then on July 8th call off football and other fall sports. The Ivies have not yet made a decision for basketball, except it will not be held until January, at the earliest.

However, a more definitive conclusion has been made by Division One Bethune-Cookman, a Historically Black College in Daytona Beach FL. It has become the first in its classification to cancel basketball as well as all sports through the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. The reasoning is the now-familiar phrase “for the health and safety of its students.” Being first to call off its sports programs is a bold and commendable move.

The coming season would have been its 40th and final one in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Other schools in the league have yet to make a decision. But Coppin State, Delaware State, Florida A & M, Howard, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Morgan State, Norfolk State, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, and South Carolina State would be hard-pressed not to follow along.

Tough way to go out

“This is a tough way to go out,” Lynn Thompson the vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said. The Wildcats are scheduled to start to play in the Southwestern Athletic Conference next year.

Last week, with 30 students in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus, B-CU’s president called for a campus lockdown.

The university is trying to see if the student-athletes can remain eligible for another season. “There are waivers that the NCAA will allow us to process,” said Thompson, who lost his brother-in-law to the virus in September.

Bethune-Cookman, which made the women’s N.C.A.A. tournament in 2019, conducted an ordinary practice and scrimmage on Oct. 26th. As it turned out, it was the team’s last. The following day the players learned their season was over before it started.

Previously football and volleyball were declared ended. Now, along with basketball, baseball, softball, and track, they are all finished for the rest of the 2020-21 campaigns.

A tragedy to avoid repeating

A few weeks ago, the parents of a sophomore on the women’s basketball team arrived from Columbia, Md., to check on their daughter who was in a car accident. Shortly after they returned home, her mother, father, younger brother, grandparents, great-grandmother, and great-aunt all tested positive.

“It’s not over,” said Vanessa Blair-Lewis, the Bethune-Cookman women’s coach said. “It’s just over right now.”

That’s a prediction she was no doubt safe to make.

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