Paine's absence triggers criticism

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Lee Elder wants answers.

The famed golfer, winner of four PGA Tour events and the first black golfer to play in the Masters Tournament, in 1975, helped Paine College establish a golf team three years ago.

This past weekend, Elder attended the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Lions, the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions, did not.

Last Wednesday, athletic director Ron Spry informed the golf team of the school's decision not to send it to the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship -- just hours before the team planned to travel to the event -- because of limited finances. Two weeks earlier, the Lions won their first SIAC Tournament title.

"This is the first I've heard about this," Elder said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. "I knew at the Minority Championship they were not there, and I inquired about it. The director said he did not know why they weren't there."

Elder, who met with Paine president Dr. George Bradley two weeks ago, plans to be in Augusta later this week. He wants to meet with Bradley again to find out the circumstances surrounding Paine's withdrawal. Bradley, however, is out of town this week. Two messages left for him at his office Monday afternoon weren't returned.

Augusta Commissioner Joe Bowles, former chief financial officer at Paine College, said the trip, which would've included gas, food and hotel rooms, would've cost no more than $4,000 and possibly much less.

Bowles said he's baffled by the timing of the decision, because the school could have raised the money in time.

"You could've called any of the local golf manufacturers or the AGA (Augusta Golf Association)," Bowles said. "All it would've taken is one phone call.

"That would've been one of the easiest things to go to the community to raise money for."

Bowles said Augusta's golfing community is still in shock.

"Nobody can believe it happened," he said. "I think the golfing community here in Augusta was ignored, and they could've solved this problem. Unfortunately, it's the students and the college that are going to pay the sacrifice."

Bowles said he's planning to speak with Bradley as well. Bowles said he wants to put on a golf tournament during the summer to raise funds for the golf program.

"Set up an annual tournament to fund their travel," Bowles said.

Last week, before the announcement of the withdrawal, golf coach Fred Summers, who did not return a cell phone message Monday, said, "We're going down there to win. They're on a high right now you wouldn't believe."

Fayetteville State won the Division II portion of the 54-hole tournament Sunday with a total of 9-over-par 873. Lincoln finished second, nine shots back.

Upon Paine's withdrawal, freshman first-team all-conference golfer Sean Lucas returned to his native Los Angeles with plans to transfer to another Division II school. Lucas said Daniel Augustus, who also left Augusta late last week, planned to transfer out of Paine.

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (18) Add comment
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Just My Opinion
6064
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Just My Opinion 05/13/08 - 03:42 am
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It can't be just the money

It can't be just the money problem. Like Bowles said, money could've been obtained somehow, and the Paine president and Coach Spry know it. Just can't understand why they would purposefully keep these guys home, instead of allowing them to bring more exposure to Paine College. Well, they can only blame themselves, and I'm talking about the administration, not the team.

justputtin
1487
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justputtin 05/13/08 - 05:13 am
0
0
Very sad event. Lee Elder

Very sad event. Lee Elder getting involved is great. Maybe he can influence some people making poor decisions. He's a great man and has fought his entire life with class and grace. I have a huge amount of respect for Lee Elder, go get em!

jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 05/13/08 - 07:06 am
0
0
Ron Spry is the problem, he

Ron Spry is the problem, he has done this to the Soccer Team, Baseball and Womens Basketball, if any team is succeeding other than his mens basketball team he doesn't care. This is not the first time Spry has done this. The Alumni should should be in an uproar and recommend he be fired... This reminds me of local high schools who never have money to go anywhere, having to beg the alumni and community to help fund travel. Paine needs a budget set aside from the allotted budget just in case teams succeed like the Golf program, that way they will have money outside of the allotted funds that can finance travel etc if needed. It's a sad day at Paine. Ron Spry needs to go.

mdbrave
5
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mdbrave 05/13/08 - 07:31 am
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Selfish, shady..what other

Selfish, shady..what other adjectives to describe this series of events? Someone should open up the books in the athletic department. Administration, are you listening?

citizen5
0
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citizen5 05/13/08 - 08:44 am
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Ron Spry looks like you need

Ron Spry looks like you need to get your books in order, because here they come!!!!!!How can you go from the brink of winning a national golf tournment to almost no golf team at all. The funds were there Spry just said they were not. Spry get your books and resume' in order, looks like you are about to be the Charles Walker of Paine College.

macrec
8
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macrec 05/13/08 - 09:44 am
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Ron Spry is incompetent

Ron Spry is incompetent jerk...To leave such an fool in charge would be careless at best!!!!!!!

HEwillworkitout
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HEwillworkitout 05/13/08 - 10:02 am
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It's very easy to criticize a

It's very easy to criticize a decision that has already been made and that cannot be changed. Because PC and the Golf team sit at the center of controversy, all are easy targets. Beyond the realm of golf, Spry, etc., how many of you all contribute anything more than criticism to PC (and its components) consistently? Of all those who have posted criticism, how many of you donate time? How many of you actually visit the campus, have tangible conversations with the students? How many of your banks accounts reflect a check written to PC or a student of the school? If a child dies, because of neglect of the parent, do we fault the child? Nay, we fault the parent. Sadly enough, the Augusta community is the parent guilty of neglect of its child, PC...now the chickens are coming home to roost. Unfortunately, its at the expense of these talented students!!! It's high time that the Augusta community stop ignoring the elephant in the room--PC is only recognized by this community for its athleticism or controversy. "Heads need to roll" (pink slips) for this disgusting debachery. But I challege everyone to not wait for PC to ask for help, rather offer assistance where you see the need

ripjones
2
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ripjones 05/13/08 - 11:49 am
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If Ron Spry is the guilty

If Ron Spry is the guilty party, then he should be terminated. All sports teams should have equal chances to use funds. If they perform, then they should rewarded by funding their trip. He does not have the right to play favorites.

C.Lewis
0
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C.Lewis 05/13/08 - 12:20 pm
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Paine College has the money

Paine College has the money to do what it wants to do...bottom line. There is no excuse to why those students were told at the last minute, they would not be going becouse there was no money to go. In the defense of Coach Spry, he has no control over financial descions made at Paine College, and those who do, know exactly what they are doing...just ask the students that go there.

C.Lewis
0
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C.Lewis 05/13/08 - 12:20 pm
0
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Paine College has the money

Paine College has the money to do what it wants to do...bottom line. There is no excuse to why those students were told at the last minute, they would not be going becouse there was no money to go. In the defense of Coach Spry, he has no control over financial descions made at Paine College, and those who do, know exactly what they are doing...just ask the students that go there.

Ron Martin CPP
2
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Ron Martin CPP 05/13/08 - 01:20 pm
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If you (Paine) still have the

If you (Paine) still have the LIMO, sell it! The students need to compete!

joebowles
104
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joebowles 05/13/08 - 01:34 pm
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HEwillworkitout, There is no

HEwillworkitout,
There is no doubt Paine is having financial strains. However, we as a community would have given the funds for the golf team if notified of the need. Yes, I contribute annually to Paine through its UNCF campaign. Would you consider assisting me in organizing a golf tournament to raise funds designated for the golf teams travel so this never happens again??

citizen5
0
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citizen5 05/13/08 - 01:49 pm
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Hewillworkitout, you stated

Hewillworkitout, you stated "If a child dies, because of neglect of the parent, do we fault the child? Nay, we fault the parent". Ron Spry is the parent in this situation, his neglect to allow these young men an opporunity that does not come that often, killed a dream that they sent forth at the beginning of the season. PC is not recognized for it's athleticism, becuase Spry kills any form of recongination if it's not male basketball.

BlackJack7
15
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BlackJack7 05/13/08 - 03:32 pm
0
0
sound like its time for paine

sound like its time for paine to have an all-out audit, especially the athletic department.

Just My Opinion
6064
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Just My Opinion 05/13/08 - 03:53 pm
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HEwillworkitout...are you

HEwillworkitout...are you saying that we should give money ("assistance") to Paine College just because...well, why?? Why is it that every other college or institution uses money they ALREADY have to fund these sort of events, but it sounds like you are saying that we should EXPECT to bail Paine College out. I really think that the good people at Paine College have more integrity than that and will only ask for assistance if it's genuinely needed. And I honestly think that the community would give it to them. And, in reference to your analogy, how can you compare a historic, proud and steadfast institution such as Paine College as a "child"?? To do that would imply that they are foolish and unable to tend for themselves in any supportive way, and that is just not true.

curly123053
5121
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curly123053 05/13/08 - 05:45 pm
0
0
If Ron Spry was part of that

If Ron Spry was part of that team he would have made sure the team went. CONGRATS to the Paine Golf Team. You are still champions!

iletuknow
8
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iletuknow 05/14/08 - 06:11 am
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Why is a PGA Minority

Why is a PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship needed? Can't they just play golf with everyone?

HEwillworkitout
0
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HEwillworkitout 05/14/08 - 11:28 am
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Joe Bowles--I will DEFINITELY

Joe Bowles--I will DEFINITELY assist you with raising the funds to ensure that this never takes place again. Let me know your thoughts on how to best synthesize our efforts. Citzen5--Spry wasn't the parent here. More like the cruel-intentioned baby sitter. Just My Opinion--I did mention that money/assistance should be given to Paine. However, I also inquired about how many of us actually take to time to visit the campus and talk to the students at PC. In other words, assistance is not always about donating money, it's about mentoring, providing internships, and creating opportunities for ALL the students of PC (ASU, AT, and MCG as well), not just athletes. "The elephant in the room" is that PC does not get recognized unless it's for something negative or something athletic related. Whereas ASU and MCG get recognized for various accolades. For example, PC has a graduates going to PhD programs, accepted into Ivy League schools, going to work for major companies, etc. PC just received a major grant. These are just a few of the things that PC rarely gets recognized for...However, when it's something negative they get daily press

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