Paine College Athletic Director Ron Spry's recent refusal to approve funding so that his golf team could compete in the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship is shocking. How can a school deny its student athletes the opportunity to vie for the championship that they have battled to qualify for all season?
Through stellar play all season that included a win at the SIAC Tournament Championship in April, the Lions qualified for the national championship tournament. The Paine College golf team was one of the favorites heading into the tournament, and had an opportunity to bring home a national championship in just its third year of existence. Paine College did not field a golf team until 2005.
The most unfortunate aspect is that these young men are not just stellar athletes, but they are racial trendsetters. Against all odds, these gentlemen have excelled in a sport that is dominated by whites and has historically excluded blacks. Many of the courses they play would not have allowed them on the grounds just a few decades ago. It is ironic that a predominantly black college famous for its unbiased guiding principles would commit such an injustice to its own student athletes.
Ron Spry's awkward explanation for not funding the trip offers more reasons to support the athletes than deny the funding: "I would not waste my time or energy to prohibit any individual or any sport from being successful. I think common sense for anyone would know that as athletic director you'd like to see all programs successful because it enhances the institution," he explained.
This decision could forever damage Paine College's stellar reputation. Prospective students, alumni, donors and athletic recruits may begin to eschew the institution and gravitate toward institutions that do not put a price tag on supporting their student athletes.
Keith G. Albert, Augusta