Birmingham-Southern baseball advances to DIII College World Series, as school shuts down

The small college in Alabama is closing due to financial troubles

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - JUNE 05: Birmingham-Southern Panthers infielders wait during a pitching change during the Division III Men's Baseball Championship held at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium on June 5, 2019 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Chapman defeated Birmingham-Southern 11-0 to win the championship. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Birmingham-Southern Panthers infielders during the Division III men's baseball championship at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium on June 5, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

The Birmingham-Southern baseball team will play in the Division III College World Series beginning May 31. Yet as the Panthers take the field at Eastlake, Ohio, they will represent a school that no longer exists as an institution.

Birmingham-Southern College — a private liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,300 students in Birmingham, Alabama — is closing May 31 because of financial difficulties. The school, founded in 1856, had fought for nearly two years to restore its endowment. But legislation for a $30 million loan did not pass in the Alabama State House. As a result, the college decided to close in March.

Yet the Panthers' baseball team will play on after sweeping Denison in a best-of-three super regional series to advance to the DIII College World Series. Birmingham-Southern won Friday's game, 10–1, and followed that up with a 7–6 win Saturday morning.

Coach Jan Weisberg says playing baseball — and continuing to play in the postseason — has helped his players deal with the situation facing their school.

"Just with all the emotions that we’ve been facing, to not have that one on our back of, ‘God, this could be the last game in this dugout,'" Weisberg told The Athletic's Kennington Smith III. "It was a release, and I think they’ve played with that."

Since learning that the school would close, the Panthers have gone 18–4. Prior to that, the team had a 13–10 record, losing nine of its past 10 games.

"[Coach Weisberg] said, 'There's only one thing we can focus on now,'" pitcher Hansen McCown told ESPN. "We're just going to focus on us. We're going to do stuff together. We're going to keep playing baseball."

Weisberg also pledged to help his players find teams at new schools. Many have found new programs, while others are still working out such arrangements. Some will also stop playing after this season, and 10 players are graduating.

As the Birmingham-Southern College athletics account posted on X (formerly Twitter), "Campus may be closing, but the story is still to be written."

Birmingham-Southern last played in the D-III College World Series in 2019, advancing to the finals before eventually losing to Chapman University.