For Elcorn State’s football program, traditionally one of the best among historically black colleges and universities that play in the Southwest Athletic Conference, this weekend’s game in South Alabama marks a significant financial deal.
As one of the most under-resourced programs in the Football Championship subdivision, with the budget of the athletics department in the $6 million range, the $360,000 paycheck to play a game represents a substantial portion of their revenue for the year.
But it is unclear whether the team will travel to South Alabama because it is not able to practice on Monday or Tuesday because it does not have an athletic trainer available to treat the players, head coach Fred McNair said in a radio interview on Monday. . And four people with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA Today Sports.
Now the question is whether Elcorn State will play with the FBS team for a normal week or so without practice and with what kind of medical supervision.
Alcorn State athletics director Derek Horn did not return a message seeking comment.
All four spoke to USA Today Sports on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.
One of them said Tuesday the soccer team’s activities were limited to a rehearsal where nurses working at the university – not certified athletic trainers – were allowed to pass out ice bags.
“It’s been an ongoing thing for us,” the person said. “The sad part is we’re winning and you’d think it would be a plus to help us move forward.”
Alcorn State are 1-1 to start the season, including a 13-10 win over Northwestern State on Saturday.
Frustration within the program is also simmering publicly, with McNair saying Monday night: “It’s something that needs to be fixed. It’s a matter of administration.”
Although Alcorn State’s coach was still expected to play the game, there are echoes of the situation. 2013 player at Grabling State boycott terms Due to other issues related to the funding of their facilities and the program’s administration, the school forfeits a game against Jackson State.
While most of FCS played the 2020 football season in the spring of 2021, Alcorn State pulled out entirely. At the time, it was framed as a decision attributed to COVID-19 concerns.
But people with knowledge of the situation told Granthshala Sports that those in the upper echelons of the team chose not to play because the school had not hired a full-time strength coach or athletic trainer during the pandemic and thus prepared to compete. was not.
“It’s not because we didn’t want to play,” said one person. “We didn’t have the things we needed.”
Fred Worthy, a full-time athletic trainer, was hired in late January but quit in July to return to a private-sector health care job. One person said the athletic department did not immediately hire someone to replace him and instead outsourced the job on a part-time basis to two trainers who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Our team is 90 percent, 95 percent vaccinated and our entire staff is vaccinated,” the person said.
Two part-time athletic trainers tested positive for COVID-19 before the team’s game against Northwestern State last weekend, and qualified were brought back on a temporary basis to get through the game. But after the players arrived and treated on Sunday, the man said that Worth told the staff that he would not be able to return on Monday.
The coaching staff was told that this would result in revised practice, but the issue has now spread over several days and there has been no general preparation for Saturday’s game. Players and parents have become increasingly agitated by the school’s response, four people told USA Today Sports.
According to Alcorn’s contract, if the game is not played, he would suffer a $360,000 loss on South Alabama.
“If we don’t think they’re safe, we’re not going to field them,” said one person. “We, as an employee, are not going to do that.”