LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Student-athletes with Angelina College were left shocked on Monday after they learned they would not be having sports season during the upcoming academic school year.
The announcement to student-athletes at the Lufkin junior college from their coaches came on the same day that the National Junior College Athletic Association announced that they were moving the majority of the fall sports to the spring and delaying the winter sports until January.
“It was hearbreaking,” softball student-athlete Hannah Scoggin said. “I guess a lot of us just thought that we were going to get the news that we were not going to be able to practice in the fall. Never thought it would be the whole season.”
In a press release on Monday the college made t clear it was not an easy decision.
“Although I wanted to see our student-athletes compete as much as anyone else did, the primary consideration during this unprecedented time is the safety and well-being of student athletes and employees,” President Dr. Michael Simon said. “The expert guidance is clear that the nature of most athletic competition increases risks for everyone involved. At AC, we bring students to Lufkin from throughout the United States and send them to compete in areas currently struggling to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which increases their chances of exposure and the potential for community spread of the disease in Angelina County.”
“I spoke with every president I could reach and asked, ‘What protocols do we have that major programs don’t have?’ Nearly every team trying to bring back athletes early suffered outbreaks,” Simon added later in the release. “There simply is not a means of ensuring student safety in any other way than suspending competition for the time being.”
Like Scoggin, Ethan Jacobs was getting ready for his third year as an athlete at the school. The Woden graduate was granted another year of eligibility after the baseball team lost this past season due to COVID-19. Jacobs was looking forward for another chance. According to Jacobs, the baseball team had recently been told their fall practice schedule had been approved.
“There are 57 baseball players left out to dry,” Jacobs said. “That is not including the basketball teams, softball or soccer. we just kind of got thrown to the wolves.”
Athletic Director Guy Davis has been at the college for over four decades and knows what sports mean to the students and community.
“Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about Angelina College and our athletics programs,” Davis said in the release. “I don’t think we had any choice when it came to protecting our student-athletes, and that’s our primary responsibility to those families. No one is hurting any more than I am right now, but for the benefit of our student-athletes, this was the right and only choice at this time considering the pandemic situation.”
According to Simon the college is working toward allocating funds to ensure those athletes currently on scholarship are still able to remain enrolled at AC if they choose to do so.
“My heart goes out to the incoming freshman who’s high school season got cut short and now they were expecting to go play at the next level, something we all dream about, and now they may not get that opportunity,” Scoggin said.
Jacobs is not working on finding a school that is committed to play baseball this academic year.
“I understand where they are coming from but the timing could have been better...,” Jacobs said. “It’s been just a day since we found out about this. Right now it is just guys trying to find a place to go to school and if they can play baseball great. A lot of us are not going to go to Angelina if we cannot be on campus and play baseball. I don’t know how many of us will be going there in the fall just to go to school.”
Both Simon and Davis stated the college is already looking ahead to fielding teams beginning in the fall of 2021.