North Carolina Central Announces it Will Cancel Baseball Program at Season’s End.

In a shocking move, North Carolina Central University has announced that the athletic program will no longer support the baseball program, which will become effective at the conclusion of the 2021 season. 

The athletic department based its decision on the increase in expenses during the last four years and what the impact of the pandemic has had on whether or not the program can sustain revenue opportunities to support fielding a team. 

The university has decided to drop its baseball program for what they are calling an athletic department budget shortfall. This is hard to believe when state funding in North Carolina has increased by 9 percent from economic growth in the last four years.

The athletic department based its decision on potential cost savings, facilities and travel requirements.

The elimination of baseball alone will not be enough from a budgetary or structural standpoint, but it was the step the university thought needed to be taken to build the future structure of the athletics department. When it became clear that the university could not support baseball from a budgetary and structural standpoint, it was decided to simply make the decision in hopes of giving coaches and student-athletes ample time to pursue their careers elsewhere if they choose.

Since this past March, the athletic department took action to minimize the impact of COVID-19 by slashing it’s overall overhead expenses, the reduction of staff, with some working on a temporary basics.

The elimination of baseball leaves North Carolina Central with 15 varsity sports to sponsor with eight male and seven female sports.

The decision to cut baseball may be directly related to the NCAA’s Title IX gender equity requirements. The school wouldn’t have considered dropping baseball if it weren’t for the pending budget cuts. That is the language a majority of HBCUs administrations always state when they slice the budgets of baseball programs to cover the cost of others sports programs that overspend their budgets each year. Baseball always seems to get hit first.

NCCU stated that “based on the NCAA minimums for sport sponsorship, a female sport could not be considered in sports portfolio realignment.”  In my opinion, this could be a matter of equity and funding, much like the financial issues Winston-Salem State University had when a budget shortfall forced the cancellation of the baseball program in favor of golf in 2019.

The NCAA will let those with remaining eligibility transfer to other schools without sitting out a year. Those who remain at NCCU will have their scholarships honored according to the university. If student-athletes consider transferring to continue their collegiate careers, per NCAA transfer rules, “student-athletes are immediately eligible for competition when their institution discontinues the sport in which they practiced or competed.”

North Carolina Central is the fifth HBCU baseball program eliminated in the last four years.  Concordia College of Alabama cut its program at the end of the 2017 season. St. Augustine’s University cut baseball just before the start of the 2019 season.  Both Selma University and Winston-Salem State shut down following the 2019 school year.

 

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