NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Leaders with another college sports conference will decide if student-athletes will play this fall.
The decision by the presidents of the Ohio Valley Conference impacts several schools in Tennessee, including Tennessee State University.
Dr. Mikki Allen took over as TSU’s Athletic Director in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and said it has definitely been challenging so far but he’s optimistic.
Dr. Allen saw one big challenge as the financial impact of not being able to play fall sports, like football. TSU had a game scheduled with Southern University that’s no longer happening, which was a guaranteed $400,000 for the school. He said the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis was also canceled and it would’ve brought TSU $750,000.
He maintained their main priority is the safety of their student-athletes and staff members.
“What I hope comes out of that meeting tonight is regardless if we play in the fall or we postpone things for the spring, that there’s a plan around it and that plan supports us taking the right steps and necessary precautions to make sure our student-athletes are safe,” said Dr. Allen.
TSU has been taking safety precautions because of COVID-19. Dr. Allen said he was the only athletic director in the conference who elected to keep student-athletes at home and postpone preseason workouts until a later date.
As an HBCU, he noticed how minorities were more severely impacted by the virus.
“Obviously, we have a large portion of our student athletes that are minorities. The virus has had a tremendous impact on minority groups so I felt it was in the best interest of our institution and our athletic department to hold off on our student athletes returning,” said Dr. Allen.
He added that they were able to start preseason workouts and student athletes do want to put that training to the test.
Some of the other schools in the Ohio Valley Conference were Austin Peay State University, Tennessee Tech University, Belmont University, and UT-Martin.
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