Alcorn State might be opting out of the Southwest Athletic Conference’s spring football season because of COVID-19 and contact tracing protocols.
If that is the case, the SWAC has yet to be informed, commissioner Charles McClelland said Wednesday.
Citing an anonymous source, WLBT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi, reported the Braves, two-time reigning conference champions, have yet to practice since being eligible do so more than two weeks ago. Alcorn is scheduled to start its season Feb. 27 at Alabama A&M and a meeting against Southern is still tentatively slated for March 27.
WLBT-TV was confirming Alcorn’s opt out first reported by footballscoop.com.
“We haven’t received anything from Alcorn at this point,” McClelland said. “We’ve read the Footballscoop information but not correspondence from Alcorn. I would have to hear from them to determine levels of concern. I haven’t heard anything, official or unofficial.
“We’re concerned about everything — the weather, COVID, people playing — there’s always a level of concern. But until we get something from Alcorn, at this point it’s just speculative.”
Southern’s meeting with Alcorn is one of only two home games for the Jaguars in their seven-game season.
Southern athletic director Roman Banks said he’s heard the rumors and been in contact with the conference office.
“I spoke with the conference office today and they have not received anything officially,” Banks said. “If the news becomes official, the commissioner has put athletic directors on notice for a meeting. At that time the commissioner will introduce policies and procedures.”
The SWAC postponed its 2020 fall football season and moved it to the spring. Each team was allowed six conference games, with room for an optional seventh game.
Banks said all schools are contending with the instituted protocols brought on the pandemic.
“We all have the challenges,” he said, “but it’s important to understand we have a procedure to present the case to the conference office if it’s a COVID-19 problem. If not, there is another procedure.
“A university can’t just say they didn’t do something under institutional control and call it a COVID problem. We have to get all the facts in.”
Banks said there were no specific worries about losing any other opponents.
“We all have worries because of COVID and we’re all protected by the protocols put in place,” he said. “But we made a commitment to play the games as long as you have the number of students-athletes to put out there in a particular sport.
“You always have concerns and I’m sure there will be some games student-athletes miss. Coaches understand they have to have others ready to go so you don’t cancel the game.”