Following the lead of the Ivy League, which made the same decision a day earlier, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association announced Thursday that is has canceled all athletic activities through the end of the calendar year in response to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
North Carolina schools Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, Johnson C. Smith, Livingstone, Shaw, St. Augustine’s and Winston-Salem State are all members of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities conference.
“This was a difficult decision but remains consistent with our long-standing priority of always acting in the best interest of our student-athletes, coaches, and support staff,” CIAA commissioner Jacqie McWilliams said in a statement announcing the cancellations. “While there will be no athletic competition in the fall, we will continue to support opportunities that enhance the experiences of our student-athletes, member institutions, and partners.”
According to the statement, the CIAA’s decision to suspend athletic activities is a precautionary move made in response to the uncertainty of whether students will be allowed to return to campus this fall at conference member institutions in states where COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
The move will not only affect falls sports, including football, but will also delay the start of the basketball season.
There is still a possibility that modified schedules for football, volleyball and cross country could be adopted for the spring. It is uncertain when such a determination would be made by the CIAA’s athletic directors.
A revised game and practice schedules — along with a process for determining conference champions — will be announced when or if such a move is adopted.
Regardless of whether the seasons are played, the CIAA’s membership has unanimously agreed to honor athletic scholarships for all fall sports participants.
“The main priority of the board and conference is the safety and well-being of our students and staff,” Virginia State president and CIAA board chair Makola Abdullah said. “Although this decision is not ideal, it does afford all of us an opportunity to continue working through best practices and ensure our communities as a whole are in the best possible position moving forward.”