NORFOLK, Va. - In preparing to play a 2021 spring football season, Norfolk State was simply unable to prepare.
Monday, the university announced Norfolk State had opted-out of its scheduled four-game 2021 spring football season - a campaign pushed back from the fall of 2020 due to COVID-19. NSU's first game was slated for February 20th.
"Due to the issues surrounding everything, I just couldn't see, as a head football coach, the reality of putting a team on the field not having adequate time to practice and prepare for the upcoming season," NSU head coach Latrell Scott told reporters Tuesday via a Zoom press conference. "We had to make a decision that made the best sense for us."
Scott said his team had not been on the practice field since January 29th, although he added there was not a COVID-19 outbreak within the program.
"Our training staff and our players did a tremendous job," Scott noted. "We just had situations that limited us being able to practice with the number of bodies you need to practice with to be successful. Football isn't a game you can take two weeks off and be successful. We did have a few [COVID-19] cases that limited our practice situations."
The Spartans plan to conduct a spring practice period in preparation for the 2021 fall season. As the team looks ahead to brighter days, the reality is tough to swallow.
"I've got bags under my eyes - I didn't sleep well last night," Scott admitted. "It's difficult. Never in a 20 year career have I had to tell a team twice that we're not going to play. But when you're the face of something like this, sometimes you have to be criticized for doing the right thing. My job is to make sure I lead our program and protect us the best way possible. We wanted to play football, but we're not able to. We will be able to play football and we'll do the things going forward to be able to do that. But the one thing we're not going to do is put our kids in harm's way to be able to do it."