Savannah State University, the historically Black educational institution in Georgia, has made the decision to leave Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and transfer down to Division II status. The decision will also force the university to end its membership in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The decision will reduce the number of football scholarships that can be offered at Savannah State from 63 to 36.
Cheryl D. Dozier, president of Savannah State University, issued a statement that read in part: “While I am extremely proud of the progress our athletes and coaches have made at the Division I Level, it is not financially feasible for us to continue.”
Savannah State has been operating with an athletics budget of just over $5 million. The typical college or university in the Football Championship Subdivision of the NCAA’s Division I has an athletic budget of $10 million. The university currently fields six men’s teams and eight women’s teams.
The university stated that “this decision was made after months of discussion and deliberation in an effort to put SSU’s athletics programs in the best position fiscally, academically and athletically. This move allows SSU athletics to remain in competition and carry on their traditions.”
Savannah State had made the decision to move from Division II to Division I athletics in 1998 and competed in Division I for the first time in 2002.