Citing low student participation and difficulty finding comparable opponents, West Georgia Technical College will terminate its athletics programs June 30.
“We have been looking at athletics for most of this calendar year,” WGTC President Scott Rule said. “Many of our sister colleges around the state have eliminated their programs, and this has put additional pressure on our teams to find opponents. Any time you travel long distances to play, there is cost both in fuel and lodging, but also in lower student participation.”
West Georgia Tech, a member of the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Junior College Athletic Association, first fielded a men’s basketball team in 2008. Over time, women’s basketball, men’s baseball and women’s fast-pitch softball were added.
Rule said out of a fall 2018 enrollment of 7,187, the college has only 82 athletes across all four sports. Home basketball games are played at Oak Mountain Academy, while baseball and softball teams play at Central High School in Carrollton.
Rule said attendance for games is low, likely because of the focused, career-minded nature of technical college students.
“Many of our students are busy with jobs, homes and families,” he said. “We don’t have on-campus athletics facilities or residence halls, so students don’t even associate the college with athletics.
“What we do have are robust and relevant academic and technical programs that prepare students for careers where there is growth and where there is demand for their skills,” Rule added. “We are going to focus on these mission-critical areas where our communities count on us to make a difference.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Tonya Whitlock said the college will work with student-athletes as they decide whether to finish their studies at West Georgia Tech or transfer to other programs.
“One reason we are announcing this now, before winter break, is to allow students to discuss this with their families and others and decide how they want to proceed,” Whitlock said. “We’ll play the remainder of our basketball season and the spring seasons for our baseball and softball teams will continue as planned, but students need to have plans in place following that.”
Rule said West Georgia Tech’s mission is workforce development.
“We know that athletics provides many benefits, but it is essential that we prioritize our mission – workforce development – and we arrange our organization and our budget and everything else we do to support workforce development,” he said.
Rule said players have been informed and each has been offered individual help in transferring or staying.
“It is our hope that every one of our student-athletes decides to finish his or her education at West Georgia Tech,” Rule said. “But if they decide they want to continue an athletic career at another institution, we will do what we can to ease that transition.”