Furman Eliminates Baseball Program, Citing Coronavirus-Related Economic Woes

Furman on Monday announced it cut its baseball and men’s lacrosse programs, effective immediately.

Furman is the second school to cut baseball in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the financial crisis affecting college athletics. Bowling Green State was the first, eliminating its program May 15.

In addition to eliminating baseball and men’s lacrosse, Furman will also institute 10 percent pay cuts for high level employees like athletic director Jason Donnelly and its football and men’s basketball head coaches and cut athletic scholarships by 45 over the next five years. Furman said the cuts will save the athletic department $5 million annually.

“Our immediate focus is on supporting our student-athletes and coaches impacted by today’s decisions, as well as our alumni and fans who so passionately support our programs,” Donnelly said. “The legacy of Furman baseball and men’s lacrosse will be remembered and celebrated.”

The last week has been an especially tough one financially in college baseball. The Southern Conference, which includes Furman, was one of several conferences to announce cost-saving measures in baseball, including cutting the conference tournament to four teams and playing its conference series over two days instead of three.

Bowling Green and Furman became the first two schools to cut baseball in the wake of the pandemic and the fate of Chicago State’s program on Monday lay with a vote of the school’s board of regents.

Furman was a consistent program over the years and advanced to the NCAA Tournament five times, most recently in 2005. It also won the SoCon regular-season title four times, all between 1965-76. The Paladins also produced nine big leaguers, including Jerry Martin, Tom Mastny and Rick Wilkins.

The Paladins were 8-9 this spring and in 2019 went 26-31 and finished in fifth in the SoCon standings. In 2017, the Paladins matched the program record with 33 wins, going 33-28 and reaching the SoCon Tournament finals, where they lost to UNC Greensboro.

Now, however, the program will go dark. For a school in South Carolina, a college baseball hotbed, it is a bitter fate.

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