CIAA Cancels 2021 Basketball Season
Due to growing concerns related to COVID-19, the Board of Directors for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) has voted to cancel the upcoming men’s and women’s basketball seasons, which was set to begin January 9, to include the 2021 CIAA Basketball Tournament. In addition, the board also voted to cancel the women’s volleyball season, which had been moved to the spring from the fall. “Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to challenge the conference’s ability to see a clear path to move forward collectively. The impact to health and wellness, community concerns, as well as the economic ramifications are real,” said CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams. “I want to commend our Board of Directors for exemplifying courageous leadership in college sports to ensure the well-being of the CIAA as well as the health and safety of our student athletes and communities.”
“This was not an easy decision or one that was taken lightly by the CIAA Board,” said Virginia State University President and CIAA Board Chair Dr. Makola Abdullah. “We all want to have a season, and we want our student-athletes, coaches and staff to have a season. However, the data, which changes almost daily, does not support such a decision. The potential risk outweighs the desire to play.”
In lieu of games being cancelled and no in-person events, the CIAA still plans to engage alumni, students, and fans during what is traditionally tournament week, in the last week of February, through a virtual experience. The platform will feature a host of ancillary events – including several that have become cornerstones of tournament week such as CIAA Fan Fest and the CIAA Step Show. More details, including a full schedule of events, interactive fan promotions, and other activations, will be released at a later time.
A decision on spring seasons and championships will be provided later as the conference and its membership continue to monitor the COVID-19 landscape while following current federal, state, local, NCAA, and campus guidelines.
Bayou Classic Moves To Shreveport
The decision of the SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors to postpone fall sports contests also postponed the 47th Annual Bayou Classic until Spring and not as it is annually played in New Orleans each November.
The Bayou Classic is the annual legendary football game between Grambling State University and Southern University. The Bayou Classic has proven to be a steadfast beacon of legacy and tradition that extends beyond the HBCU community. Fans from across the nation journey to witness the electrifying football game between Grambling and Southern, while eagerly awaiting the highly anticipated halftime show featuring two of the greatest marching bands in the nation.
The 47th Annual Bayou Classic will be played on Saturday, April 17, 2021, at Independence Stadium in Shreveport. This will be the second time these two historic programs will meet in Shreveport. The Jaguars and Tigers will meet on the gridiron for the 72nd time, SU leads the overall series 38-33 and since the Bayou Classic started in 1974 they are both tied 23-23.
Due to the substantial scope of the Phase 2 renovation work to begin in January 2021 at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, the annual home of the Bayou Classic, this rescheduled annual matchup between the Grambling Tigers and the Southern Jaguars had to be temporarily moved to another location. This is a one-time, temporary move of location, similar to 2005 following Hurricane Katrina when the Bayou Classic was played in Houston, Texas.
The 48th Annual Bayou Classic is scheduled to be held in New Orleans in November 2021 as traditionally done each year.
Suggs Receives Promotion
Claflin University Director of Athletics Tony O’Neal recently announced renaming of staffing titles within the athletic department. Among those receiving a promotion was Marilynn Stacey-Suggs who was elevated to Deputy Director of Athletics for Compliance.
Stacey-Suggs, who is in her sixth season with the department, previously served as the Associate Athletics Director for Compliance, Senior Woman Administrator (SWA) and Deputy Title IX Coordinator. In addition to her new role as the Deputy Director of Athletics, Stacey-Suggs will continue to serve as the SWA and the Deputy Title IX Coordinator.
Also receiving a promotion was Matisse Lee who is now the Claflin Associate Director of Athletics for Internal Operations and Student-Athlete Affairs.
“The new titles for Mrs. Stacey-Suggs and Ms. Lee, are merited” stated O’Neal. “It is exemplified in their years of experience, diligence, dedication and fervor to the successes of the department of athletics and the University. Their commitment to teamwork is unheralded.” O’Neal continued, “I anxiously anticipate their continued growth as a part of our departmental senior leadership team.”
As part of the department’s Senior Staff, Stacey-Suggs’ responsibilities include analyzing senior administrative issues, as well as ensuring that the student-athletes, department staff members, alumni, and any other individual or organizations affiliated with the department, is in compliance with the rules and regulations of the NCAA, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and Peach Belt Conference. As Senior Woman Administrator, Stacey-Suggs will assist the University’s athletics program with policies and procedures that achieve the parallel goals of the development of quality, competitive athletics teams, and support of the individual educational goals of student athletes.
“I appreciate that my forthright efforts during the transitions of the new University administration and athletics administration are acknowledged,” said Stacey-Suggs. “I am incredibly enthusiastic about the endless possibilities, even as we navigate the next normal. I will, with the same genuine persistence, work firmly for the continued success of the Team.”
Prior to joining the Panther staff, Stacey-Suggs served as Athletic Director and Associate Director of Student Development at Savannah State University (SSU). While at SSU, she served in several capacities, including stints as the Assistant Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator and interim Athletics Director/ Senior Woman Administrator. Stacey-Suggs was also the part-time Senior Woman Administrator while serving as the university’s Telecommunications Coordinator during their transition to Division I from Division II.