DURHAM, N.C. – North Carolina Central University announced Thursday that it will discontinue the sport of baseball at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
Due to an increase in athletics expenditures during the past four years and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on revenue opportunities, it was determined that the current funding model for athletics is not sustainable. This decision to discontinue one sport is an effort to improve the overall fiscal stability of the department’s annual budget, as well as maximize the available financial resources to enhance the championship experience for the student-athletes in the remaining 14 sports programs.
Since March 2020, the NCCU Department of Athletics took measures to manage the budgetary impact of COVID-19 by cutting overall operational costs by 30%, reducing staff positions, and implementing department-wide furloughs. However, those steps are not sufficient enough to support long-term fiscal stability and competitive success.
A task force was established in the fall of 2020 to review a 2015 NCCU sports portfolio report conducted by consultant Alden & Associates. The task force assessed the recommendations from the report and analyzed the operational costs and facility infrastructure for all sports to determine the sustainability of each program.
In addition, the task force factored the minimum number of sports required by the NCAA for Division I membership, as well as sports sponsorship within the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
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The minimum total number of sports required for NCAA Division I membership is 14. The NCAA also specifies the minimum composition of sport offerings must be either seven female and seven male sports or eight female and six male sports.
NCCU currently sponsors 15 sports (one above the NCAA minimum) with eight male and seven female sports. Therefore, based on the NCAA minimums for sport sponsorship, a female sport could not be considered in sports portfolio realignment.
After a thorough review of all factors, including squad size, number of competitions, cost of facility rental and game officials, and overall operational expenses, it was determined that baseball would be discontinued.
“This is a challenging day for our baseball student-athletes, coaches and the NCCU Athletics program, and certainly one of the most disappointing days in my career,” said NCCU Director of Athletics Dr. Ingrid Wicker McCree. “I sincerely understand how much time and dedication has been put into becoming a college student-athlete and I empathize with our baseball student-athletes, parents, and families. There is never the ‘right time’ to make an announcement such as this; however, this decision was made after a rigorous internal and external review of our long-term financial model to improve the overall sustainability of our athletics program. We appreciate the loyalty our baseball donors, fans and supporters have shown throughout the history of the program.”
The university will honor all existing and new scholarships for baseball student-athletes who wish to continue studying at NCCU for the 2021-22 academic year. For student-athletes that consider transferring, under NCAA transfer rules, student-athletes are immediately eligible for competition when their institution discontinues the sport in which they practiced or competed.
NCCU remains committed to its support of the affected student-athletes by offering compliance, scholarship, academic and counseling resources.
“We will focus on supporting our baseball student-athletes and coaches impacted by today’s news,” McCree said. “Head coach Jim Koerner and his staff have contributed greatly to the success of our baseball student-athletes and have made a positive impact on our community. The legacy of NCCU baseball, the program success under the leadership of Coach Koerner, and our current and former baseball student-athletes and coaches will be remembered and celebrated.”
Courtesy: NCCU Athletics