NORFOLK, Va. - "It's something that we knew was definitely a possibility, but obviously when you actually get the news there's an immediate sense of sadness," Norfolk State head football coach Latrell Scott said.
Sadness felt by NSU football after it was made official that there will be no football this fall.
This week the Spartans were joined by William & Mary and Hampton University on the list of programs that had their seasons postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The MEAC made its decision by putting the health and well-being of its athletic programs first, so for NSU players there's no retunring to campus for summer workouts in preparation for a season and they're tasked with staying in football shape as best as they can from home.
There's another side to players being away from the football program, as well. Scott says that a lot of his players are from tough home backgrounds or tough situations, so Scott says he worries about hem when they're away from the NSU campus.
"We have a lot of different guys that live in a lot of different cities and locations that aren't so safe," Scott said. "They're tough places for our guys to live. When I don't have certain players here with me I worry about them. I worry about them all regardless, but I know for a lot of our players Norfolk State is a better situation than for a lot of our guys who are at home."
While there's no in-person communication, coaches have relied on technology to stay in contact with players who have returned home.
At this point in time there's no plan for the retunr of football and the conference has yet to make a decision on whether fall sports will be pushed to the spring, so for the Spartans it could mark almost a year apart by the time they're reunited.
"We have between 115 players and coaches that we call family," Scott said. "Some of them I have not seen since March, so when you go months and months and months without seeing your family it's tough."
It's a case of gridiron grief that can only be fixed by the return of football.