MORROW, Ga. – Clayton State University has announced that the institution will suspend the operations of the women's tennis program for three years as a part of a reorganization to achieve financial sustainability.
The decision to suspend the program, rather than discontinue it, was made following a review of current fiscal needs, the Department's 5-Year Budget Plan and institutional enrollment projections. At this time, those numbers project that the program would potentially be reinstated after the 2020 season at the earliest.
"This is an extremely difficult decision to make, but it needed to be made to ensure that Clayton State Athletics operates at the highest levels of NCAA Division II and within current budget realities," said Director of Athletics Tim Duncan. "It was a conscious choice to suspend the program rather than discontinue it. We are hopeful that we will be able to restore this storied program in the near future."
The University is working closely with the impacted student-athletes to determine their next steps and provide the support needed to them and their families during this time.
"Our athletics program remains a vital part of the Clayton State experience and our student-athletes are among the brightest on campus," said President Tim Hynes. "Taking care of our impacted student-athletes is our priority and we are working closely with each student and their families. They will also have our support to continue their education here at Clayton State."
"As an institution, our goal is to have a financially sustainable athletics program and to be a place where student-athletes choose Clayton State because of its strong athletics program and academics," said Hynes.
All current women's tennis student-athletes with remaining eligibility will have the option to transfer to another institution to continue their playing careers. There will be no restrictions on where they can transfer to under the auspices of the "discontinued sports" provision and Clayton State Athletics will assist them in that effort should they so choose.
Those same student-athletes will also have the option of finishing their degrees at Clayton State. The Department will honor their current scholarships through their graduation, provided that they remain in good academic standing as prescribed for all Laker student-athletes.
Head coach Le'Trone Mason, who has been with the department since the Fall of 2010, will transition to a new role as Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities and Event Management.
Clayton State's women's tennis program began play in 1996 and has existed for the 22 seasons since then. Its history includes three NCAA Division II Regional Championships, three Elite Eight appearances and a berth in the 2011 Final Four.
"These are individuals that we have recruited to our campus, who have come in and done everything asked of them, on and off the court," said Duncan. "With that in mind, once this decision was reached, we wanted to ensure they had the opportunity to complete their studies here at Clayton State as they had planned. This is in keeping with our philosophy of "Once a Laker, Always a Laker".
ABOUT CLAYTON STATE ATHLETICS
In the 27-year history of the program, Lakers student-athletes have produced an incredible 127 NCAA Tournament Appearances, 17 Peach Belt Conference Regular Season Championships, 30 PBC Tournament Titles (19 by individuals) and 73 All-Americans, all with just 12 sports. Highlighting these performances is the 2010-11 women's basketball program, which claimed the first NCAA Division II National Championship in program history, doing so with a commanding 69-50 victory over Michigan Tech on March 25, 2011 in St. Joseph, Missouri. To learn more about the rich history of Clayton State Athletics, please visit ClaytonStateSports.com.
SPORT SPONSORSHIP HISTORY
This is only the second time in the 27-year history of Clayton State Athletics that a program has been discontinued/suspended. The only other time occurred when men's golf competed during the 1992-93 season before being discontinued after that inaugural year. The program was revived in 1995-96 and has been a staple of the Lakers' sports offerings ever since.