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SC State to carry on with spring football after MEAC opts out

S.C. State coach Buddy Pough (copy) (copy) (copy)

S.C. State football coach Buddy Pough's team and the Bulldogs plan to play football this spring, even after the MEAC suspended its spring season. File/AP

There will be no conference title to play for, but South Carolina State plans to carry on with a spring football season.

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference announced Feb. 11 that it will suspend its spring football season. Six of the league's nine teams have opted out of spring football, leaving only S.C. State, Delaware State and Howard planning to play.

That's not enough to carry out a league championship, the MEAC said. 

"Conference policy states if 50% or more institutions cannot participate in any championship, the championship for that sport will be suspended," the league's statement said. "As a result, the MEAC decided to allow individual member institutions to do what is best for their student-athletes and university community."

S.C. State had been scheduled to play two games each against Norfolk State and North Carolina A&T State, both of which have opted out. 

But Bulldogs athletic director Stacy Danley said S.C. State will play a "home and home conference and non-conference spring football schedule," presumably meaning games against Delaware State and Howard along with at least one non-conference foe. The school is working to announce a schedule by the end of the week.

“We consulted with our team doctors, medical professionals, coaches and student-athletes and have determined that we are able to compete this spring in all of our remaining sports including football,” said Danley. “As we move forward we will continue to make decisions based in the best interest of student-athletes’ health and safety.”

The MEAC said league schools that do play will follow COVID-19 protocols. 

"Those institutions will follow the ongoing protocols they have outlined at their schools and continue to align with the CDC guidelines and the NCAA’s health and safety provisions that have guided collegiate athletics throughout the academic year," the league said.

S.C. State's director of sports medicine, Craig Harward, said the school's athletes are tested weekly for COVID-19.

“As of today, the football team has zero positive tests," he said. 

Like all FCS leagues, the MEAC postponed its fall football season to the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“While it is tremendously disappointing to suspend the spring 2021 football season, it is the right decision with regards to the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans,” MEAC commissioner Dennis E. Thomas said. “As I have stated since the beginning of the pandemic, health and safety will continue to be at the forefront of every decision. We support those institutions who will continue to play.”

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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