Savannah, GA – Savannah State President Cheryl Dozier announced that the university has applied to reclassify as a NCAA Division II school. SSU joined the Division I ranks in 2002 and eventually joined the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 2010.
“Today we are announcing our intent of Savannah State University to reclassify all athletic programs from NCAA Division I to NCAA Division II,” said President Dozier.
The transition to Division II will take a minimum of two years so for right now things will stay the same for Tigers athletics.
“Right at this time we do not expect an immediate impact on any of their scholarships initially,” said Dozier.
The biggest impact will be on the amount of scholarships Savannah State can award once they transition is complete.
“At the classification we are in there are 63 possible full scholarships. At the Division II level we have 36 maximum scholarships that you can give,” said Savannah State Athletic Director Sterling Steward Jr.
The transition will also mean Savannah State will not qualify for high profile tournaments like March Madness or the FCS Football Playoffs. The tigers will also have to leave the MEAC which means the match ups with schools like Howard University, Hampton University, Norfolk State will stop.
“I’m also worried just because of what this means for the future of the school as a whole. Because dropping to Division II will obviously will lighten our publicity and will take us out of the public eye,” said Savannah State student Willie Walker.
It all came down to the Division I price tag.
“Athletics is very expensive and we all know that. So without having those kind of large donations and the millions of dollars to support athletics it is a strained financially,” said Dozier.
“It’s just really expensive at a Division I level. It’s really, really expensive,” said Sterling.
Some students feel that SSU needs to explore more options.
“There’s a group called 300 Club which is run by alumni. Which has made a plan that without any of the school’s money or any of the school’s investment will raise a million dollars over the next few years and this is all going to go specifically toward decreasing the athletic deficit. And eventually paying off the athletic 8 million dollar debt,” said Walker.
Despite the arguments against it the SSU leadership will move forward with their reclassification application.