Emily Smith, Editor in Chief
After 50 years of Pirate athletics, the Armstrong State University/Georgia Southern University Athletics Operational Working Group will recommend to the Consolidation Implementation Committee (CIC) that “intercollegiate competition end at Armstrong State University following the current 2016-17 athletic year,” a working group spokesperson reports.
Student-athletes electing to transfer at the end of the Spring 2017 semester can apply the dropped sport exception, which allows them to compete immediately, without sitting a year in residency.
Armstrong State University has earned a reputation as one of the premier NCAA Division II departments in the nation. Over the past five decades, Pirate athletics teams have earned 13 national championships, 96 Peach Belt Conference championships, 139 NCAA Championships appearances and 296 All-Americans.
“While predictable, this move is still hard to swallow. I wish that the Board of Regents would consider a 24-month transition period that included athletics so as to let juniors finish their careers at Armstrong and allow coaches longer to find other jobs,” Armstrong baseball alumnus, Berry Aldridge, said. “I really hope that a severance package will be considered for coaches or perhaps an extension of their contracts to last the full duration of the transition.”
Women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country and men’s and women’s basketball have completed their championship segments and will not participate in further intercollegiate competition. Baseball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s golf are currently in season and will each finish their 2017 spring semester of competition.
“All of our student athletes, coaches and athletics staff are valued members of our Armstrong family,” said Armstrong President Linda M. Bleicken. “We are working with them to create outcomes that are as positive as possible.”
As decided by the Consolidation Implementation Committee on March 3, all athletics-related scholarships for affected student athletes will be honored, provided students are making satisfactory academic progress. This plan will allow student-athletes who are affected by the consolidation to continue their education without bearing an additional financial burden.
“This was a very difficult decision, but it is in the best interest of our student-athletes,” Armstrong’s athletic director Lisa Sweany said in a news release. “This decision is being made now so that student-athletes and staff can focus on their future and what is in their best interest. I’m very proud of what our student-athletes, coaches and administrators have accomplished during my time at Armstrong.”
The Athletics Operational Working Group is working on the recommended structure of the new Georgia Southern University Athletic Department. Armstrong coaches and administrators will continue to have roles through December 2017.
“Some of these coaches built these programs from scratch. That’s who I really feel for,” Aldridge said.
For updates regarding the consolidation between Georgia Southern University and Armstrong State University, please visit consolidation.GeorgiaSouthern.edu