Fans, students and alumni were looking forward to the return of football and other sports at Florida A&M in the spring. However, the university will be opting out of the 2021 spring season for football and two other sports, Athletic Director Kortne Gosha told The Famuan this afternoon.
Both basketball programs are scheduled to proceed as planned as are the baseball and softball teams.
FAMU rival Bethune-Cookman University announced last month that it was canceling all sports for the academic year, which left FAMU with only four scheduled football games at the time.
Although the athletic department’s decision has disappointed many student athletes, there are some who are still optimistic about competing at a later date.
Jaylyn Scott, a junior health science student and 400 meter runner, says this decision is tough to accept but it may be for the best.
“I was disappointed, but I thought about the safety precautions. This would have been my first year of eligibility for the MEAC conference. Although we don’t have a season, I just know we are going to keep working and get back to it soon,” Scott said.
FAMU track and field runners were practicing five days a week at 6 a.m. As their expected season started to approach, the Rattlers started gearing their practices toward upcoming indoor meets.
Morgan Shortridge, a senior health science major and high jumper for the Rattlers, says she was expecting the season to happen.
“We started to practice for the indoor season, so when I heard the news the first thing that came to mind was disappointment. Academically I’m a senior but for track, I still have a few more seasons of eligibility left,” Shortridge said.
Leading up to the spring season, student athletes were participating in weekly temperature checks and COVID 19 tests. Student athletes were also required to wear masks in the weight rooms and the field house.
Gosha said he was looking forward to celebrating his first HBCU homecoming but knows this decision is the best for the university.
“Rattler fans were all expecting to see sports this year but then the pandemic hit. It was a lot of uncharted territory for all of us. To shut everything down, there were a lot of mental frustrations with our student athletes. However, we’ve found strength in each other,” he said.
Finding strength in each other is something the Rattlers will continue to do throughout the pandemic. Although the university has opted out of volleyball, football and indoor track, athletes are still allowed to practice on campus.
Despite the absence of three major sports, the women’s and men’s basketball teams will participate in a 16 game conference schedule that will be played over a nine week period.
The women’s basketball team is set to take on the Florida State Seminoles for the first time in 16 seasons. The game will take place Nov. 25 in the Lawson Center.