South Carolina State has avoided a shutdown of its school, but could its basketball program be on the way out? Following a month in which SCSU came face-to-face with the possibility of temporarily closing, President Thomas Elzey is pushing a plan that would eliminate men’s basketball, along with women’s softball and soccer, according to The Times and Democrat.
The T and D’s Brantley Strickland says that would be bad for business.
“Cutting the program at this point would be incredibly shortsighted. Fact is, any financial restructuring plan involving the demise of men’s basketball essentially cuts off the only sport in addition to football that can be a revenue generator. And at this stage, South Carolina State doesn’t need to cut things that have the possibility of being self-sustaining, dare I say profitable, in the immediate future.”
SC State’s athletic department is currently in a $210,000 hole, according to the article. That’s a hefty sum, but just a drop in the bucket to the $10 million deficit the school finds itself in.
If cutting athletic costs is a concern for SCSU, and it should be, there are options. The obvious one is to move to Division II, where less scholarships and a smaller staff are the norm. It could also find a conference (most likely the SIAC or CIAA) where it wouldn’t have to travel as far to play opponents as it does in the MEAC (as far north as Delaware and as far south as Florida) which would also drive down costs.
But being Division I seems to be a pride thing. And if that’s the case, the school would just have to slash football scholarships or look for more money games. But cutting a revenue sport like basketball just doesn’t make sense.
As we said last month, athletics is the least important thing at South Carolina State right now. But athletics will have a big part to play in helping the school recovery from its present state. There are options, but cutting basketball shouldn’t be one of them.