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Kennesaw State’s Caleb O’Neal celebrates a touchdown at Hampton in 2019. The Owls were set to host the Pirates this season before Hampton canceled its fall sports schedules.

The Kennesaw State football team's home schedule is starting to look thin.

For the second time this summer, the Owls lost a home game when Hampton University canceled its fall sports schedule -- including football -- due to the concerns over the coronavirus pandemic late Monday afternoon.

Earlier this summer, Kennesaw State's Sept. 5 home opener against Point University was canceled because the NAIA is not allowing its football programs to start their seasons prior to Sept. 12.

The big difference with the Hampton cancellation is that is the cancellation of a Big South Conference game.

"Out of concern for the spread of COVID-19 among our athletes and members of other (Hampton University) constituent groups, all fall sports have been suspended," Hampton athletic director Eugene Marshall Jr. said in a statement. "If conditions permit, we anticipate resuming all athletic related activities during the spring semester 2021. The spring semester will consist of both winter and spring sports.

"Please understand that this decision was not taken lightly. But it was done in the best interest of our Hampton University students, student-athletes, faculty, staff, administration, alumni and fans."

The game against Hampton was scheduled for Oct. 31. The new vacancy in the schedule vacancy would leave Kennesaw State with two Saturdays off out of three in the middle of the season, provided another opponent cannot be scheduled.

Kennesaw State now has only four home games on its schedule -- non-conference opponents Alabama State, Tarleton State and Samford, as well as Campbell, the lone Big South opponent now set to play at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. 

A Kennesaw State athletic spokesman said the university is still actively searching for a game to replace Point for the season opener, and it will wait for further instructions from the Big South as to what to do about the loss of Hampton. 

The Pirates' decision further threw Football Championship Subdivision schedules into flux as they joined Fordham among individual schools cancelling their seasons, while the Ivy League and the Patriot League have also cancelled their fall sports schedules. At the Football Bowl Subdivision level, the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences said they would only play conference games only. 

As difficult as it may be for Kennesaw State to find replacement games so close to the beginning of the season, it is in a better position than Big South rival Monmouth.

The Hawks have lost three games on their schedule because of the moves. They were to open the season at Rutgers from the Big Ten on Sept. 5, then host Fordham on Sept. 26 and travel to Hampton on Nov. 7.

Big South commissioner Kyle Kallander released a statement on Tuesday supporting Hampton's decision.

“The Big South Conference respects the decision of Hampton University, and all its member institutions, relative to its best course of action during the pandemic," Kallander said. "As a conference, we continue to monitor the environment, communicate actively with our membership, and will make decisions in the best interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes and athletics personnel at the appropriate time.” 

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