Towson University announced Monday that it will not compete in a spring 2021 football season, becoming the first Colonial Athletic Association program to do so after plans were announced last month to push competition to the new year.
The Colonial Athletic Association — an FCS conference featuring universities along the east coast — had announced plans to play a six-game spring 2021 season, with teams divided into two divisions based on geography to lighten travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
The conference still plans to move forward with the altered campaign even after Towson’s decision, and CAA commissioner Joe D’Antonio told The Baltimore Sun the league “is 100% supportive” of Towson’s choice.
Tigers football coach Rob Ambrose said in a video posted to YouTube that he spoke with his team and polled their interest in playing a spring season. Part of the concern, Ambrose said, were long-term injuries suffered in the spring preventing players from competing in the fall.
“We surveyed the guys, way more than half the team, almost 75 percent of the team did not want to trade a full season next year for a six-game who-knows season this spring,” Ambrose said. “They said, ‘Coach, do you realize that we lost [six players to knee injuries] last fall in the first three games?’ Six guys that were starters, heavy contributors.
“If that were to happen in the spring, those guys would lose that year and they’ll never get it back,” Ambrose continued. “And nobody wants to take a chance — at least nobody with experience — on giving up a full season of opportunity for something that one of the kids said, ‘Coach, this year doesn’t count against our eligibility anyway. Why are we trying to make it count?’ And, you know, after listening to the kids, I couldn’t come up with a good reason why we should do this.”
Towson will still practice in the spring to prepare for a traditional fall 2021 season, and the players will retain their year of eligibility.
The Tigers aren’t the first FCS program to opt out of a potential spring 2021 season, with Abilene Christian, Campbell, Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, Houston Baptist, Old Dominion, Sacramento State and Stephen F. Austin also not competing.
“With football being a high-contact sport, the student-athletes and coaches agree that potentially sacrificing a normal fall season for a shortened spring year is not the safest course of action,” Towson University athletics director Tim Leonard said in a release. “We support our student-athletes and coaches in this decision, and we look forward to a return to the field for the 2021 season.”
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