Florida Tech has the unfortunate “honor” of being the first football casualty of the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, they likely won’t be the last.
We have previously noted that there will be a financial cost because of the pandemic as it relates to athletics at the Div. 1 level. Monday, a program one level lower has been impacted as Florida Tech announced a series of cost-cutting moves within the athletic department. Included in that is the elimination of the Div. II football program. The complete elimination. Which impacts 120 student-athletes and eight coaches.
The university stated that the pandemic led to the decision.
“As I have continued to share with you, these are difficult times for our university,” Florida Tech president Dwayne McCay told the university community in a letter. “Indeed, all of higher education is struggling to deal with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertainty that accompanies a global disruption to daily life. Some universities will no doubt close. Florida Tech, however, has plans to persevere. …
“The unprecedented uncertainty created by COVID-19 makes these moves prudent, but no less painful. We must do what is necessary to preserve resources critical to our educational mission and ensure our ability to successfully serve students when face-to-face instruction resumes this fall. I appreciate each of you, and I am humbled by your hard work and sacrifice.”
The Florida Tech football program first suited up for the 2013 season. The Panthers qualified for the Div. II playoffs twice (2016, 2018) during their brief existence. Playing out of the Gulf South Conference, the Panthers will finish with an overall record of 44-35.
In a Q&A, though, there was some sliver of good news:
Will student-athlete scholarships be honored?
All scholarship-eligible student-athletes affected by this reduction will have their athletic scholarships honored for up to four years. If they choose transfer, NCAA rules allow them to transfer and play right away and not have to sit out a year.