|NC Central reduces staff, OKs beer and wine sales for games|
|Cuts due in part to COVID pandemic|
|Published Sunday, October 4, 2020|
|COURTESY NC CENTRAL ATHLETICS|
|Division I HBCUs like North Carolina Central can still qualify for an at larger berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, but the window will be smaller in 2020 with fewer games.|
Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye reported at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting the university’s overall revenue was up 8.9% from a year ago, and only 24 students had been isolated due to COVID-19 as of Sept. 21.
Akinleye thanked the efforts of the entire university staff, and athletic director Ingrid Wicker McCree and her staff in particular for their cost-cutting moves.
We all know athletics either can be boom or bust for an institution, and this year is especially challenging with all MEAC fall sports moving to the spring. But no sports also mean no travel costs, which is one of, if not the biggest expense for HBCUs and other mid-major and smaller programs.
Still, the pinch is being felt. According to minutes from the June board meeting, 2019-20 budget revenue fell in every category due to discontinuation of season ticket sales, parking, cabana sales and facility rentals, and a reduction in the NCAA’s distribution.
NCCU athletics director Ingrid Wicker-McCree wrote in her report that the department has done a “thorough assessment of all operational, sports sponsorship and personnel” in order to decrease the 2020-21 budget by $2.8 million. A reduction in staffing and reducing operational budgets by up to 30% has begun.
Fifteen positions will be eliminated. A question was asked how many of jobs were vacant. The answer: 8. The rest will occur either through layoffs or retirement.
“Get your ice cold beer H-E-E-E-R-E!”
The athletics department requested and received approval to sell beer and wine at home football, and basketball games beginning this fall. To reiterate, that’s beer and wine, not mixed drinks.
With football not starting until the spring, this puts even more pressure on women’s and men’s basketball coaches Trisha Stafford-Odom and LeVelle Moton. A winning team brings in more fans, and happy people love to drink.
Move over football
Division I basketball practice will begin Oct. 14 – and not a moment too soon. The NCAA set the regular season opening date on Nov. 25 – the day before Thanksgiving – with no exhibition games or closed scrimmages allowed before then. The normal start date is Nov. 10.
The later start also brings a decrease in games. Women’s basketball can compete in a maximum of 25 regular season games, provided they don’t participate in a tournament of some sort. Men can play 25 games and still play in one tourney for two contests.
FCS playoff reduction
The NCAA also moved all DI fall championships to the spring. For Football Championship Subdivision teams, this means fewer chances to earn an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs. The association reduced the number of eligible teams from 24 to 16.
Not that HBCUs were lighting up the field anyway. Despite the Celebration Bowl taking the SWAC and MEAC champions, both conferences can still earn an at-large spot. But the last HBCU team to do that was North Carolina A&T in 2016.
The Aggies lost 39-10 to a depleted Richmond team they should have easily beaten. Oh well.
Bonitta Best is sports editor at The Triangle Tribune in Durham.
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