• 68°

Co-Lin ends soccer programs: Athletes affected will be eligible for other scholarships

Copiah-Lincoln Community College will suspend the men and women’s soccer programs indefinitely to save money.

The Co-Lin Board of Trustees made the decision recently during its monthly meeting. It was not a unanimous decision as Chris Kent and Bary Tyson, both from Franklin County, voted against it.

“The cost of the program to the college for us right now on an average of the last three years is $172,000 (each year),” Co-Lin President Ronnie Nettles said. “We anticipate using some of those funds for scholarships for the students who are still with us, but the savings will be significant for us.”

The soccer program, which started in 1999, has struggled to recruit enough men and women to be competitive with other colleges in the state. Also, other community colleges have made a higher financial investment in their soccer programs, Nettles said.

The additional funding needed to improve both programs is not available or justified at this time.

The soccer players will have an opportunity to continue their education at Co-Lin and receive scholarships based on their academic progress, discipline record and involvement on campus. Soccer scholarships for current students will be valid until the end of the school year.

The athletic department will assist student athletes in contacting other MACJC colleges if they wish to continue playing. “Out of 15 community colleges, 11 of them have soccer programs,” Nettles said.

Coach Junior Noel will remain under contract until the end of May. “We still have students who are sophomores who are trying out for other teams,” Nettles said. “There will be certain responsibilities he will have until the end of this year.”

This has been a difficult situation to make for everyone involved,” Nettles said in a written statement given to the media. “We are grateful for the hard work, time and effort Coach Junior Noel and the players have put into the soccer program this past season.”

No plans have been made yet for the field.

Noel declined to comment about the program Monday when contacted by The Daily Leader.

Money slow to come in

State appropriations and enrollment are also down as compared to a year ago, but financial advisors say it’s just a timing issue.

The college is down $1.3 million in revenue from January 2016, but Stan Patrick, vice president of business affairs, attributes that to anticipated funds that have not been received.

 Patrick compared the college’s current January financial standings to the January 2016 report during the meeting.

“I think it’s a timing issue. We believe some of those funds will begin to come in,” he said.

However, student enrollment is also on a decline. It’s down 3.88 percent, which is equal to about 110 students. That translates to about a 2.48 percent decrease in full-time enrollment, or about 74 students. “Again, there may be some issue with that because of the timing of things,” he said.

State appropriations are also down. The college received $5.5 million this year. “That number is down about $1.7 million from what it was last year,” Patrick said. “That is money that strictly comes from the state. They continue to be a little slow with getting the money to us, but it’s a timing thing again.”

However, local appropriations are on the rise. “The county appropriations are up $226,000 in the unrestricted fund and $161,000 in the plant fund,” Patrick said.

The federal grants and contracts are also up $500,000 more than this time last year.

Most of the money the college is lacking comes from the state. “We feel like that money will continue to come in. It’s nothing to be alarmed about, it’s just where we are now in January,” Patrick said.

He praised the three campuses — Wesson, Natchez and the Simpson County Center — for keeping expenditures such as salaries, services, utilities, commodities, scholarships, travel and equipment in check with some of the budgetary constraints. Their expenditures are $340,000 lower than last year at this time, he said.

In other board action:

• The resignations of Mary Shivers as medical laboratory program/director, Mary Price as early childhood education technology director/instructor, Emily Collins as admission coordinator and Angelica Williams as assistant basketball coach/Ellis dormitory supervisor were approved.

• Christopher Case and Joseph C. Granger were given full police powers for the Wesson campus/Co-Lin district effective Jan. 17.
• Colin’s graduation ceremony was announced. It will be held May 10 in two groups, for students with last names beginning with A-K at 9:30 a.m. and students with last names L-Z will at 1:30 p.m.

• The governor’s mandated budget cut for fiscal year 2017 was approved.

• The $207,000 budget was approved for President Ronnie Nettles’ memorandum of agreement with the Mississippi Community College Board to establish an Early Childhood Academy with a resource and referral center at the Natchez campus. The Wesson campus will supervise the program.

Ronnie Nettles

Ronnie Nettles