N.C. A&T Homecoming Parade (copy)

The N.C. A&T Aggie mascot poses before the 2019 Greatest Homecoming on Earth parade in Greensboro.

GREENSBORO — N.C. A&T's promising football season is over before it began.

The MEAC has canceled fall sports.

The league and its Council of Presidents and Chancellors announced at noon it would suspend all sports because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, but the MEAC left open the possibility of fall sports schedules being moved to the 2021 spring semester.

Tthe MEAC's winter sports have not been affected, but that could change if "health and medical professionals advise otherwise," the league wrote in a news release.

The rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases along the eastern seaboard influenced the council’s decision. Data suggests the African American and other minority communities are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and the MEAC wants to make sure "the correct measures are in place to reduce exposure to the virus."

“The health and safety of our student-athletes continue to be our No. 1 priority," said Dr. Wayne Frederick of Howard, chairman of the MEAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors. "We have made the decision to suspend all sports competitions after careful review of the current conditions and consideration of the potential exposure that regular travel to competitions may cause and ongoing extensive physical contact. While our competitions have been suspended, each member institution will plan ongoing engagement of all student-athletes to ensure optimization of their physical and mental well-being as they continue their matriculation.”

“Obviously this is an arduous decision because everyone wants to have a fall season,” MEAC commissioner Dennis Thomas said. “Part of our responsibility is to ensure the mental and physical health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff is paramount. It is imperative that everyone recognize that is our first and foremost responsibility.”

News of the MEAC's decision started making the rounds on social media more than an hour before the official release from the league.

Kenn Rashad, the editor and publisher of HBCUSports.com, broke the news on Twitter a little before 11 a.m.

"Sources are telling me that the MEAC will be making an announcement to cancel all fall sports," Rashad posted.

At A&T, seasonal employees reportedly were notified this morning.

The loss of football particularly hurts for the Aggies. A&T has won four of the five Celebration Bowls at the end of the season, and the Aggies are loaded with veteran talent. In all, there are 18 seniors — 15 of them redshirt or fifth-year players — on A&T's football roster with 11 of those projected as starters. That includes All-America candidates running back Jah-Maine Martin and cornerback Mac McCain.

Contact Jeff Mills at (336) 373-7024, and follow @JeffMillsNR on Twitter.

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