Less than a month after being forced out at Paine College, golf coach Fred Summers finally broke his silence.
Summers, who hasn't spoken publicly since his team was denied a trip to the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship in April, stated his disappointment in an exclusive interview with The Augusta Chronicle .
"I hate things had to turn out this way," he said. "It's disappointing I can't take Paine College to the next level."
Summers, who was instrumental in building the Division II program, was asked to resign by the college in May. After refusing, the school sent him a letter stating his contract would not be renewed. His last official day with Paine is June 30.
Summers' ouster came one month after he helped lead the school to its first Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship. The Lions planned to participate in the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship -- an event they qualified for earlier in the year -- May 9-11. The day before their departure, school officials canceled the trip, citing lack of funds.
Fayetteville State won the Division II portion of the event with a 9-over-par 873 total.
"There was no doubt in my mind we would've beaten Fayetteville State or at least given Fayetteville State a run for their money," Summers said. "That was the most disappointing thing, not taking the kids down there to compete. They put themselves in position to win a national championship."
Less than two weeks after the tournament, Paine president Dr. George C. Bradley said in a news release the team used an ineligible player, but did not describe the violation. Summers never received an explanation why the school deemed freshman golfer Daniel Augustus ineligible after the team won the SIAC Tournament.
"I was surprised at the allegation and at the timing of it," said Summers, who added that's all he can say about the matter.
George Mategakis, the SIAC's director of championships, said the violation was not as severe as originally thought and that Paine would be allowed to keep the championship. Still, the school decided not to keep its golf coach.
Summers, who also was an assistant basketball coach at Paine, said he wants to continue coaching basketball and golf. And he'll continue to root for the Lions.
"I want to see the Paine College golf program succeed," he said. "That's something I've built from scratch. I'd love to see them win an SIAC Championship next year and then go down to the PGA Minority Championship and win that."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
APRIL 23: Paine won its first conference championship, prevailing by 21 shots over Morehouse College.
MAY 8: The Lions were preparing to participate in the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship in Port St. Lucie, Fla., when athletic director Ron Spry informed the team the school was not going to fund the trip.
MAY 12: Lee Elder, winner of four PGA Tour events and the first black golfer to play in the Masters Tournament, told The Augusta Chronicle that he was going to talk to Paine president Dr. George Bradley about Paine's absence.
MAY 24: Bradley makes a statement saying the Lions had an ineligible player at the SIAC Tournament. "After it was determined that we had an ineligible player who had participated in the tournament in Albany, our decision was to draw back."
MAY 30: After refusing a request to resign, Fred Summers was informed by the school his contract would not be renewed.