Eliminating basketball necessary for Jacksonville College to move forward

Mar. 22—In order for Jacksonville College to began its next chapter, it must close the book on a very old one — basketball.

That was one of the points that Dr. David Erickson, President of Jacksonville College shared with a small and hushed group that gathered inside Curtis Carroll Fieldhouse Friday night for the first of two town halls that the school has offered to give interested individuals a better understanding of why the Jacksonville College Board, accepted Erickson's recommendation to shut down Jaguar and Lady Jaguar basketball programs.

The move is effective at the end of the 2023-24 school term.

Jacksonville College will continue to field teams in men's and women's soccer, track and field, cross country, tennis and golf.

The decision to no longer participated in basketball was made due to a rather significant financial burden basketball has placed on the college's finances for a number of years, according to Erickson.

The most recent numbers released by the college indicated that the basketball teams lost a total of $149,000, or $5,730 for each player, in the past year.

"The expenses of basketball are much greater than with the other sports," Erickson said. "It's not only scholarship money, but it is also coaches salaries ... and maintaining a gym is more expensive compared to (maintaining) a soccer field. It's all those things combined."

By comparison, the six aforementioned teams lost at total of $2,000, or $17.25 per player.

"We are a private college and the only Christian junior college in Texas, Erickson said. "We don't receive any tax revenue. For every dollar we lose (in one department), we have to raise that dollar somewhere else."

Erickson went on to say that the school simply could not continue to sponsor money-losing sports programs, given today's economic climate.

"We looked at several options like playing at a different level and trying to find a benefactor to support the basketball program," Erickson said. "We could not find a realistic path (that would lead to long term success and sustainability)."

Jacksonville College intends on taking the money that was budgeted for basketball and use that to help fund new programs that the college hopes will increase the number of revenue-producing students.

Erickson said after "a number of years" school officials will re-evaluate as to wheather Jacksonville College is in a financial position to add basketball back to its sports menu.

Danny Long, Jacksonville College Vice President for Student Leadership and Athletic Director, said that he realizes not having basketball at the college will be sad, but that it was necessary to make that decision.

"I have been around Jacksonville since 1991," he said. "Basketball has always been such a big part of Jacksonville College and it is heartbreaking to have to make this decision."

Long said that he was responsible for compiling the expenses of all the sports and in doing a cost analysis for each.

Erickson said that he was optimistic towards Jacksonville College's future.

"Better days are ahead for the school," he said. "We are thankful for all the support from our alumni and from all the churches."