FAMU vs Southern

Southern quarterback Ladarius Skelton scores a touchdown during the Jaguars' game against Florida A&M on Sept. 21, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida A&M, which is joining the SWAC next season, was among the MEAC schools that opted out of the conference's spring season, forcing the conference to abandon league play for the spring.

NORFOLK, Va. — The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference suspended its spring football season on Thursday.

The season was scheduled to start on Feb. 20 and run through April 17, close to the time frame for the Southwestern Athletic Conference's spring season. Most FCS conferences are playing in the spring because their fall season was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns.

The move came after six of the MEAC’s nine football-playing institutions opted out of the season. Conference policy states if 50% or more institutions cannot participate in any championship, the championship for that sport will be suspended.

According to the MEAC, Delaware State, Howard and South Carolina State have expressed an intent to play a nonconference season. Norfolk State announced Monday it wasn't playing football, dropping the conference below its 50% threshold. Other schools that have opted out include Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M, who are both joining the SWAC for the fall 2021 season.

“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 Thomas said in a statement. “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.”

The MEAC will move forward with plans for a fall 2021 season.

Earlier this week, Alcorn State announced it won't play the spring season, leaving the SWAC with nine teams. Alcorn was one of two scheduled visitors for Southern home games; the Jaguars are seeking a replacement.

Southern is slated to open its season at 6 p.m. Feb. 26 at Alabama State. The Jaguars' only remaining scheduled home game is at 1:30 p.m. March 6 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff.