The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference suspended fall sports Thursday, resulting in the cancelation of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge and the end-of-season Celebration Bowl.
Following fellow FCS conferences the Ivy League and Patriot League, the MEAC announced it would not have competition in the fall and consider trying to make up the schedule for those sports in the 2021 spring semester.
“Obviously this is an arduous decision because everyone wants to have a fall season for student-athletes, fans and others,” MEAC commissioner Dennis Thomas said in a statement. “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.”
The MEAC is comprised of 11 historically Black colleges, though its membership is in flux. Earlier this year, Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman announced they will leave the MEAC and joining the Southwestern Athletic Conference next year. MEAC power North Carolina A&T previously announced it will move to the Big South in 2021.
Thursday's announcement wiped out this year's Celebration Bowl, which has pitted the MEAC and SWAC champions each of the past five years.
It also wiped out the MEAC/SWAC Challenge between Grambling against South Carolina State, scheduled for Labor Day weekend in Atlanta.
ESPN Events owns and operates both games.
“We understand and respect the conference’s decision,” John T. Grant, executive director of both games, said Thursday in a statement. “The impact of COVID-19 on the Black and African-American community remains at the forefront of assuring everyone’s safety. HBCUs are an integral part of college football and the MEAC’s absence undoubtedly will be a void this season.
“We appreciate the support of our sponsors and fans of the Grambling Tigers and South Carolina State Bulldogs who were set to kick off the 2020 season. We look forward to the return of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge and Celebration Bowl next year.”