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USC Union Bantams sent to roost
By BRIAN WHITMORE
USC Union will not field a Bantams baseball team in 2015-16, but plans to build a future sports program.
Dean Dr. Alice Taylor-Colbert said the school will research offerings for both men and women, including baseball and softball, over the next few months. Funding will be key.
“We just need some time to strategically plan our sports program so that we have the necessary funding,” she said. “We hope the public will rally to assist us with funding.”
The Bantams club baseball team has played three seasons in the National Club Baseball Association. Paul Wilkes, who worked in admissions, founded the team and was coach for two winning seasons. Jay Ford took over at the helm this season, but resigned after a 15-6 record.
Ford said his vision for the future of the program differed from the schools.
“I wish them all the luck in the world,” he said. “I hope they will do something to push it to the next level.”
Wilkes and Ford believed the next level would be joining the junior college ranks, along with University of South Carolina campuses in Sumter, Lancaster and Allendale (Salkehatchie). But it will cost.
“It is more expensive to have teams that are junior college level,” said Taylor-Colbert. “That is due to fee structure, number of games and travel destinations. USC Sumter and USC Lancaster are having to fund their baseball teams for the playoffs in New York.”
USC Union is the only University of South Carolina system campus not to have intercollegiate athletics. The main campus in Columbia and USC Upstate compete in NCAA Division I, USC Aiken is in NCAA Division II and USC Beaufort plays in NAIA.
To be fair, USC Union has the smallest enrollment and budget in the system.
“We must create a program that we can afford through our current budget or via fund raising,” said Taylor-Colbert.
Sports at USC Union has helped increase enrollment, so the formation of a sports offering is important, despite costs. Taylor-Colbert said the school hopes to start recruiting teams in the spring of 2016 for a 2016-17 season.
But for now the bats will go silent for 2015-16.
“We care deeply about each member of the Bantams team and will support them in any way we can,” said Taylor-Colbert. “We want them to finish a degree with us and continue to be vital members of our community.”
(Posted May 18, 2015)