A small, Catholic, NCAA Division-I school in Brooklyn, New York, has announced that it will eliminate its proud athletics program, effective at the end of the spring semester.
St. Francis College, founded by a group of Franciscan brothers in 1859, released a statement on Monday to make the announcement. According to the statement signed by Denis J. Salamone, the chair of the St. Francis College board of trustees, the school has struggled financially as a result of "increased operating expenses, flattening revenue streams, and plateauing enrollment due in part to a shrinking pool of high school graduates in the aftermath of the pandemic."
To allocate its limited resources in a way that best serves the school and its student body, the board of trustees has decided to eliminate all 19 of SFC's competitive athletic teams, including men's and women's basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and water polo. There is also a women's bowling team.
Though all teams will be disbanded at the end of this semester, the school will honor all athletic scholarships awarded to current student-athletes so that they may continue their studies uninterrupted, even though they will no longer be playing a collegiate sport. However, employment for all coaches and their staff will end with the semester, the statement said.
Irma Garcia, the SFC athletic director who assumed the position to great fanfare in 2007 when she became the first Latina woman to lead an NCAA Division-I program, claimed in a statement that she was "heartbroken" by the decision.
"My heart hurts for our student-athletes, coaches, and staff," Garcia wrote.
She also expressed admiration for all who have ever "donned the Terrier Blue and Red" and encouraged Terriers everywhere to cheer on their current teams "until the bitter end."
SFC, which claims to serve approximately 2,300 "working-class and first-generation" college students, is one of 11 original members of the Northeast Conference. Fellow conference team Fairleigh Dickinson University just accomplished one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history on Friday when, as a 16-seed, it defeated 1-seed Purdue in the opening round. FDU is just the second 16-seed in history to defeat a 1-seed.
Earlier this month, Fairleigh Dickinson defeated St. Francis in the semi-final round of the Northeast Conference tournament. After St. Francis leaves the conference in a few weeks, the Northeast will have just eight teams remaining.
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