July 15, 2008
Tifton - Money and timing are the two reasons ABAC president David Bridges says led to the school's decision to drop their men's and women's baksetball programs.
The timing could not be worse for players on both teams who have little time to find another school to play for this season.
The decision to cut the ABAC basketball programs has stung like the crack of a whip on the Tifton campus.
School president David Bridges says the combination of higher travel costs due to rising gas prices, state budget cutbacks and the fact that both programs are without head coaches led to the difficult decision last week to discontinue both teams.
David Bridges said "The decision we have made is one we are prepared to live with. We think it is going to take a little time to see the benefits we expect to see from this decision."
Bridges believes the money saved by eliminating basketball will make ABAC's other six sports more competitive.
But ABAC has had a men's basketball team for more than 80 years and it has been the anchor of the athletic program with large numbers of students and local citizens attending home games.
Imagine, if Georgia or Florida State cut their football programs in order to boost their other programs.
Bridges said "We hope those who support basketball will move and choose to support one of the existing athletic teams."
ABAC will honor the scholarships of all players and will release any player from their scholarship to play for another school.
The problem for players like Worth County's Arthur Blackmon is there are not a lot of scholarships available this late in the year.
Blackmon turned down JUCO powers like Georgia Perimeter and Okaloosa-Walton so his parents could see him play basketball at ABAC.
Arthur Blackmon said "They basically know what they want. They know what they have. They are doing summer camps and summer camps. It is going to be hard for me to get into a school or get a tryout at any other school because it is so late in the summer.
Bridges said "We made the decision as soon as we were comfortable that we were comfortable with all the parameters and we were making a good decision."
Bridges says there are no plans right now to eliminate any other sports and he hopes maybe the circumstance will change to allow ABAC to bring basketball back.
ABAC also announced that athletic director Alan Kramer will stay on as head coach of the men's and women's tennis programs.
Kramer was planing to step down to concentrate on his athletic director duties.