N.C.A&TSU a No Go to Big South This FallBy Lut Williams, Special to the Peacemaker / July 31, 2020
According to Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallender, the possibility of Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) member North Carolina A&T State University playing football in the spring will prevent the Aggies from facing Big South members this fall.
In a Zoom conference call Tuesday that opened the Big South’s 2020 Virtual Football Media Day, Kallender explained that the league has had conversations with Robert Morris and N.C. A&T about playing games this fall versus Big South opponents.
As it relates to A&T, it won’t happen.
“We had a brief conversation with A&T about doing the same thing (as Robert Morris) but with the MEAC still looking at the possibility of a spring season, they’re not able to participate,” said Kallender. “So that’s completely understandable. It was something we would have been interested in but we respect that situation.”
N.C. A&T officials confirmed Tuesday that they were in discussions over the weekend with Big South officials about playing fall sports and competing for championships in that league. Those talks fell through when it was made clear the MEAC was considering playing those fall sports in the spring.
The MEAC, citing the health concerns connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, suspended its fall sports schedule, including football, earlier this month. The league has not made a decision about playing those fall sports in the spring.
While Kallender said fitting N.C. A&T into the football schedule was not going to be possible; he said the conference is still trying to figure out if Robert Morris can be added.
Former MEAC member and now Big South member Hampton decided earlier this month to suspend fall sports, including football, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. That decision came before the Big South decided to go ahead with fall sports including football.
Monmouth, which plays football in the Big South but is a member for all other sports in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), decided Monday to not play football in the wake of the MAAC deciding on the same day to cancel all fall sports activities because of the pandemic.
The decisions by Hampton and Monmouth provided an opportunity for teams like A&T and Robert Morris, both slated to join the Big South next season, to look at perhaps playing vs. future Big South opponents this fall.
Kallender and several coaches in the conference call noted that with the ever-changing way the virus is spreading and spiking they would continue to monitor those developments with hopes to play football beginning on Sept. 3.
With Hampton and Monmouth now out for football, the Big South has only four teams – Campbell, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb and Kennesaw State – competing on the gridiron for conference honors this season. Former member Presbyterian left the Big South after last season to move to the Patriot League. Associate member North Alabama is not eligible for the preseason ranking again this year as part of its transition to Division I.
Kennesaw State was the preseason 2020 pick to win the Big South this season. Monmouth was the 2019 football champion.
Lut Williams is a journalist and sports editor. He is based in Greensboro.