DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina Central University announced Thursday that it will be cutting its baseball program at the end of the 2021 season citing the 'budgetary impact' brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic, the university's Department of Athletics cut operational costs by 30%, reducing staff positions and issuing furloughs. However, the university deemed those measures did not "support long-term fiscal stability and competitive success."
"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," a university spokesperson wrote. "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."
"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 said it will continue to honor all existing and new scholarships for baseball student-athletes for the 2021-22 academic year.
"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."