WATCH: Florida Tech Eliminates Football Program Effective Immediately
By Space Coast Daily // May 11, 2020
Panther football program founded in 2011, competes in the Gulf South Conference
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Tech Director of Athletics Pete Mazzone, speaks with Giles a Malone about how sports have been impacted by COVID-19 and what led to the decision of permanently shutting down the football program.
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA — Florida Institute of Technology President Dwayne McCay today announced the elimination of the Panther football program among a series of “steps necessary to respond to the unprecedented economic uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Florida Tech football program, which was founded in 2011 and competes in the Gulf South Conference, will be eliminated effective immediately.
The team fields 120 players, and students on scholarship will have their scholarship awards honored for up to four years.
“The unprecedented uncertainty created by COVID-19 makes these moves prudent, but no less painful,” McCay told the campus community in his letter.
“We must do what is necessary to preserve resources critical to our educational mission and ensure our ability to successfully serve students when face-to-face instruction resumes this fall. I appreciate each of you, and I am humbled by your hard work and sacrifice.”
McCay also announced staff reductions and furloughs and the closure of the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts to reduce costs and ensure the university can achieve its core mission of STEM higher education.
“As I have continued to share with you, these are difficult times for our university,” McCay told the university community in a letter today.
“Indeed, all of higher education is struggling to deal with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertainty that accompanies a global disruption to daily life. Some universities will no doubt close. Florida Tech, however, has plans to persevere.”
In order to meet the financial challenges, the university will eliminate some staff positions later this month, while additional staff will be furloughed.
Many of the furloughed employees are expected to be recalled to work closer to the start of the fall semester Aug. 17. Estimates of the number of employees impacted will not be known until the count of employees who opt to take an early retirement package is finalized.
The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, which opened its current campus facility in 2009, will also close its doors later this year. The university is making plans for how it will otherwise display the textiles collection.
Football Elimination Questions and Answers
Why is this being done?
The unprecedented uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the university to make difficult personnel and programmatic decisions. Eliminating the expense of the football program is a necessary step to ensure that Florida Tech can continue meeting its core educational mission.
How did Florida Tech choose to eliminate football?
A number of factors, based primarily on financial concerns, were carefully considered before the final decision was made.
How did Florida Tech alert the affected student-athletes to these changes?
As COVID-19 social distancing guidelines don’t allow for a team meeting, an email message was sent from the athletic director followed by coaches’ meetings with players over teleconference.
How many student-athletes are affected?
Approximately 120 student-athletes are affected.
Will student-athlete scholarships be honored?
All scholarship-eligible student-athletes affected by this reduction will have their athletic scholarships honored for up to four years. If they choose transfer, NCAA rules allow them to transfer and play right away and not have to sit out a year.
Is Florida Tech considering other reductions in sports programs?
Not at this time.
How many coaches and staff members are affected?
Eight coaches are affected.
Will Florida Tech assist current and incoming student-athletes who wish to pursue opportunities at other schools?
Yes, Florida Tech will work individually with students.
Is the economic fallout from the pandemic causing other universities to modify or eliminate athletic programs?
Yes. An indication of the depth and severity of the economic impact caused by the coronavirus, universities in Florida and around the country have announced plans to eliminate positions, freeze or reduce athletics personnel salaries, and cut entire athletic programs, all to better ensure the long-term health of their institutions as a whole. Among the schools announcing program reductions:
- Florida International University will cut its men’s indoor track and field program
- Old Dominion has cut its wrestling program to reduce costs amid the pandemic
- University of Cincinnati will drop its iconic men’s soccer program, which has been in place since 1973