Next season Aiken Tech's sideline seats will be empty, and the crowd will be quiet. Aiken Tech is saying so long to sports. Students say they were surprised to hear that news.
“That's crazy,” says Rashad Haywerd. “Why would they just cancel it like that.”
While both the basketball and softball programs have been successful, they're relatively new. Aiken Tech is celebrating its 40th anniversary: The Knights came in 1991, and the Lady Knights in 2004. The athletic director says the cost was a concern.
“A lot of costs are hidden to the average person, but fees such as officiating or the athletic trainers add up over time,” says Dr. Vinson Burdette. “Think about the last five years and what's happened to the costs of food, fuel, lodging, equipment.”
At Aiken Tech, there are nearly 3,000 students, and only around 30 student athletes. That's only one percent of the population. Students still say it's an important part of their school:
“It's great to go to basketball games when you're not in a regular university, it's great to go to those games because you feel like you're in a regular university,” says Haywerd.
“They make the technical schools for kids to progress who don't have the funds to do so, why don't we have the same access they have,” says Whitney Reynolds.
Burdette says the funds will be reallocated to help all students, specifically with school work transitions–and there will still be school spirit.
“Athletics is a source of pride and an opportunity to connect outside of the classroom, but there are other opportunities,” he says.
Perhaps ones like intermurals; that could answer this students last question:
“What would they do with the softball field and the gym,” asks Haywerd.
It's not a matter of would, but will.