"Helpless feeling": NCCU baseball players react to the sudden elimination of the program

“Helpless feeling”: NCCU baseball players react to the sudden elimination of the program

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) – Since March, when the pandemic began, the North Carolina Central Department of Athletics has sought to address the budgetary impact of COVID-19 by reducing costs by 30%. But on Thursday, the school announced that it was not enough, and after this spring, NC Central will be eliminate the baseball program.

The players said that this was a pitch they did not see coming.

“We get this message from the coach that the exercise has been postponed until today. We have this meeting at

Fajardo said that he and his teammates were worried that the meeting would be about canceling the season due to COVID-19, just like last season. To his surprise, it was not just the season the school canceled – it was the program.

“We were all sitting there in shock,” he said. “I think a lot of us are still in shock now. It just adds to what has been a very tough 10 or 11 months. It’s just a lot and I feel for all the guys and all the coaches and all the people who have come before us who has focused on making the program what it is today. “

Of the 64 Division 1 baseball teams, 18 are historically black colleges and universities. NC Central is the fifth HBCU baseball program to be eliminated in the last four years.

“It’s very important not to lose these great communities and these great programs that mean as much as any other program, that work just as hard, that put in just as much time and effort,” Fajardo said. “It’s extremely disappointing to lose something so historic and so important for nothing done to save it.”

The move did not fit well with the former star player Andrew Vernon either.

“I think it’s so fast and healthy to just be like, we’ll cut it, this is it,” Vernon said. “Call the alarms, give people an opportunity to donate. I think you will be amazed at who will come out and really support and help the school.”

The Eagles have had six players sign contracts with Major League Baseball programs since 2015, including Vernon, who became NCCU’s first MLB draft pick when he was selected in the 28th round by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016.

“It’s something that has grown from the ground up since we were there,” Vernon said. “We were part of the first recruiting class that was there for (coach Jim) Koerner. It was something we really helped build. It has grown so much over the years, and it was definitely something that is not expected.”

Fajardo said that suddenly the decision leaves the players with a “helpless feeling.”

“We feel that as a school we have not received enough support, the baseball program, when it comes to raising money, has not raised awareness,” Fajardo said. “This was kind of dropped on us from nowhere by the fact that we had very little to do with it. We feel that if we had known early, maybe we could have done something about it or spread awareness about it and gotten help, but because it was just dropped on us, it seems like we could not do anything about it, and that’s the helpless feeling that really hurts in you. “

Still, Fajardo said that this as a group motivates the team even more for its final season this spring to prove to people that the Eagles’ baseball does not matter, and that the university is making a mistake.

The University will honor all existing and new scholarships for baseball student athletes who wish to continue their studies at NCCU in the academic year 2021-22. For student athletes considering transfer, in accordance with NCAA transfer rules, student athletes are immediately eligible for competition when their institution discontinues the sport in which they practiced or competed.

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