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Florida university set to punt football season; could others follow?

According to a report, Florida A&M is punting its planned football season – as well as the seasons of other sports for the Tallahassee, Florida-based school.

And the Rattlers may not be the only school to forgo playing a modified season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a coaching source with knowledge of the situation.

HBCUGameday.com first reported that FAMU will opt out of football. The school later confirmed it would skip a spring 2021 football season, as well as volleyball and indoor track & field athletics.

"Florida A&M Athletics' decision to opt-out and forgo the 2021 spring football, indoor track & field and volleyball season was made with the health and safety of our student-athletes as our top priority," said FAMU Vice President and Director of Athletics Kortne Gosha. This was a collective decision with our coaches and staff, given the varying circumstances that COVID-19 has created for our program. We are certainly disappointed that some of our student-athletes will not be able to compete this year; however, we will shift our focus to achieving our academic priorities while planning a safe return to play in fall 2021, our inaugural season in the Southwest Athletic Conference."

Already fellow HBCU stalwart Bethune-Cookman announced on Oct. 27 that it would not only skip football but also had elected to not compete in the scheduled upcoming basketball season as well.

Per one source with knowledge of ongoing discussions, “Most of the MEAC is thinking about” not playing in the spring, he said.

The Rattlers aren't long for residency in the MEAC as it is; they announced in early-June their intention to join the Southwest Athletic Conference with the likes of Southern, Alcorn State and other HBCU powerhouse programs.

"While we have had a long-standing relationship competing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference,” FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson said in the June release, “Florida A&M's impending move to the Southwestern Athletic Conference is one that is in the best interest of the University,. The positive impacts on student-athletes, cost savings, reestablishment of long-term rivalries and opportunities to generate revenue are among the key factors in this decision."