(Stats Perform) - The Northeast Conference announced it will have not a fall sports season Wednesday night, becoming the sixth FCS conference to make that decision due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the NEC said, "Ultimately, the persistence of the virus and the potential for exposure among student-athletes, coaches, administrators, support staff, fans and local communities, coupled with the need to safely reopen NEC campuses this fall, made it impossible to execute a return to competition at this time without undue risk."
The NEC left open the possibility of fall teams playing in the spring semester. Its full-time members in football are Bryant, Central Connecticut State, Long Island, Merrimack (which is reclassifying from Division II), Sacred Heart, Saint Francis and Wagner. Duquesne, an associate member, is under the guidance of the Atlantic 10, which doesn't sponsor football.
Said NEC commissioner Noreen Morris: "This pandemic has challenged us all in ways we could never have imagined, and I applaud our student-athletes and coaches for handling this difficult time with grace and courage. We are committed to providing all of our student-athletes with meaningful practice and training activities this fall and look forward to reconvening our presidents by October 1 to discuss future competitive opportunities."
The Ivy League and Patriot leagues, Mid-Eastern Athletic and Southwestern Athletic conferences and CAA Football are FCS conferences that previously announced they won't have a fall season. The Pioneer Football League intends to have a conference-only schedule.