NC Central opts out of spring football season

The Eagles were scheduled to begin their delayed season against February 20 at South Carolina State

NC Central has decided to forgo a spring football season because of COVID-19 concerns (AP file photo)

NC Central announced Thursday that its football team will opt out of the spring season scheduled to begin next month.

The Eagles were scheduled to begin its coronavirus-delayed season on Saturday, Feb. 20 at South Carolina State but have decided not to play over concerns about the health, safety and well-being of the school’s athletes and coaches because of COVID-19.

The decision cancel the spring schedule was posted in a release on NCCU’s official website.

“We are disappointed that we will not be able to compete this spring,” athletic director Dr. Ingrid Wicker McCree said in the statement. “Our priority is to always provide the best academic and athletic experience for each student-athlete and delivering this news to members of our football program was difficult. 

“However … we have seen first-hand the impact of the pandemic. There are more challenges at this time and it is best for us not to move forward, but to allow our young men to remain safe and prepare for the fall 2021 season.”

Although the Eagles will not play games against outside competition, they will move forward with a traditional spring practice in order to prepare for a season this fall.

“This was a very tough decision to make, and my staff and I gave this a lot of thought. We evaluated our student-athletes after completing their first week of workouts this semester and determined we would not be physically prepared by the start of the season,” coach Trei Oliver said. “Football is a high-impact sport and a violent game. I know it is not in the best interest of our student-athletes to attempt to play and risk a catastrophic injury. 

“We are very disappointed. As a competitor, you try to do all that you can to play, but I am not going to risk the well-being of my players.”

NCCU’s decision not to play could potentially affect the decision of in-state rival NC A&T. Two of the four games the Aggles have scheduled this spring were going to be against the Eagles.