The Southwestern Athletic Conference has postponed all scheduled fall athletic contests and the SWAC championships, becoming the fifth Football Championship Subdivision conference to cancel football because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Southern and Grambling are the two Louisiana schools in the conference, along with Prairie View A&M, Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Alcorn State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State and Texas Southern. The conference will add MEAC members Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M in 2021.
The SWAC made the announcement in a prepared statement Monday, with plans to hold a seven-game conference football season in 2021 beginning with an eight-week training period in January. Each member institution will play six conference games, four in division and two non-division, with the option for one non-conference game, according to the statement. The Ivy and Patriot leagues, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (like the SWAC, a conference of Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and the Colonial Athletic Association also have canceled fall sports.
Other fall sports affected by the SWAC decisiion are men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer and volleyball. Plans for resuming those sports will be detailed later, according to the statement.
“The SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors felt this action was necessary out of growing concern for the health, safety and well-being both mentally and physically of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, team staff, campus faculty, fans and supporters,” according to the statement.
“The continued increase of COVID-19 cases across many portions of the league’s geographic footprint and Southern regions of the country played a significant role in the council’s decision, along with data that suggests African-American communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The statement said the SWAC shares in the disappointment that student-athletes, fans and supporters will undoubtedly feel by the decision.
“The league will continue to review appropriate measures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, administrators and the local community which continues to be the primary responsibility of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and its member institutions,” the statement said.
The SWAC, founded in 1920, has ranked No. 1 among FCS conferences in attendance for 42 of the past 43 seasons, according to Stats Perform, including 15,266 fans per game last year. It is the only FCS conference that has a two-division setup and holds a championship game.