Paine College announced it will shut down its football program after one season because of “financial health,” the school said.
“It’s very devastating to all of us, especially on short notice,” freshman linebacker Harry Davis told the Augusta Chronicle. “It’s not even about the program, it’s about the players, my teammates. Everyone is distraught about it.”
Paine football had been dormant for 50 years before returning this past season.
Davis confirmed during a cell-phone conversation he was told the news by the coaching staff about 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Davis couldn’t confirm whether expense is the main reason for the college shutting down the football program
“They didn’t say much,” he said. “Just that the program is being shut down.”
During the meeting of the Board of Trustees in 2012, the governing body unanimously voted to revive the football program.
The college introduced club football with a limited number of games in 2013 and rolled out its full program in 2014.
“At this critical juncture in the history of Paine College, we have no choice but to firmly re-establish the financial health of our college,” interim president Samuel Sullivan said in a news release.“It is only through achieving this condition that we will have a chance of being removed from probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and winning reaffirmation of the College’s accreditation.
“We must take this and other steps to reduce overall expenditures by the college and increase our net assets.”
In June 2014, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges put Paine on probation – the most severe and final sanction possible before accreditation is revoked – for being in violation of nine standards. One of the issues listed was financial stability, which remains a concern for the college.
Sullivan said that the expenses of operating a football program was ultimately the deciding factor.
“We want our sports programs to remain competitive and in order to do that, we must revisit the cost of maintaining a healthy athletic program,” he said. “Although the college is witnessing an enormous outpouring of support from the community, the economic climate has caused us to reassess the budgets and the cost of operating the football program.”
The school will honor scholarships for eligible players during the spring 2015 semester, and allow them to transfer if they wish to do so.
Paine College, in its only season in the SIAC, was 2-8 in 2014.