EMCC will not be competing in football this fall

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 7:21 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The East Mississippi Community College Department of Athletics announced Tuesday the Lions will not be competing in football this fall.

In a statement sent out Tuesday evening, the department stated it had made the decision with the support of the East Mississippi Community College Board of Trustees.

EMCC chose to withdraw from playing football this fall due to safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coach Buddy Stephens said the school unfortunately doesn’t have the “necessary resources” to regularly test student-athletes for the virus like major college programs do.

“The bottom line is that our players’ safety comes first and there is nothing we are going to put ahead of that,” Stephens said. “I just felt like there were so many things that were unknown that we were going to be putting in front of our guys and to do that right now is not my job. My job is to make sure my players get a degree, play a little ball and are safe.”

In July, presidents of the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges (MACC) voted to compete in football this fall even after the National Junior College Athletic Association voted to move football to the spring.

The MACC football season was set to begin Oct. 1 with a six-game, division only format.

Since 2010, EMCC has won six state championships and five national championships. With the winning tradition the program has, it makes the decision to cancel all the more difficult.

Stephens shared how emotional it was letting his players know they wouldn’t be suiting up in the fall.

“It was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever had to do and I told the guys that,” Stephens said. “It was also, at the same time, the easiest thing I’ve ever had to do. When you looked at all the things that were out there and all the facts, the figures - it was a no-brainer.”

The school said with spring play uncertain, it will honor student-athletes scholarships. Student-athletes will also remain enrolled in classes and still be able to access team facilities and support services.

Copyright 2020 WTOK. All rights reserved.

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