As Savannah State University gears up for a visit from officials from the Mid- Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), this writer sat down with Dr. Earl Yarbrough (SSU president), Dr. Claud Flythe (SSU vice president of administration) and Bart Bellairs (SSU athletics director) last week to ask questions about SSU’s preparation for the upcoming visit.
1- What will conference
affiliation do for SSU?
YARBROUGH- “Rivalries will be developed and teams will have a chance to compete for conference championships. It also gives SSU a chance to support the program. It’s hard to get motivated with no title to play for.” FLYTHE- “It helps level the student playing field. It gives students the opportunity to compete with peer institutions. Being independent does not offer the same opportunity. It also helps the alumni base connect with their peers. Many SSU alumni work with and socialize with alumni from FAMU, Bethune and SC State. It will also help with the traveling costs and will allow our students to stay close to home.” BELLAIRS- “It puts you in line with great academic institutions.” 2- Are there any concerns on
your end as SSU prepares
for the upcoming MEAC
YARBROUGH- “No, I don’t have any concerns.” FLYTHE- “This is the end of the 4th quarter. We can’t afford to relax now. We will have some concern until they leave but we believe things will be positive.” BELLAIRS- “The groundwork has been done. The administration did a great job in preparing. I’m proud of what the coaches have done. Volleyball and softball set school records for most wins in a season and the men’s basketball team had their first winning season in over 20 years.” 3- Why does SSU
want to join the MEAC?
BELLAIRS- “If they (MEAC) went to divisional play, it would be perfect for SSU.” 4- If SSU does not
join the MEAC are there
other options that might be
pursued for conference
FLYTHE- “We need to be in a conference. When we arrived, SSU was already committed to staying in Division I and joining the MEAC. There is no option to go back to Division II.” YARBROUGH- “It will be a group decision. We will sit down with those involved in athletics and decide what is best for the university. We will decide as a group.” 5- What is the current athletics
FLYTHE-“ I refer the question to Mr. (Edward) Jolley, the university vice president for fiscal affairs.” When asked about the deficit, Jolley replied “the current operating deficit is $270,000. That number could decrease since we have another session of summer school to go and an increase in enrollment may bring down that number.” 6- SSU’s athletic budget is
about $2.5 million. What
type of activities are being
planned to increase support
of athletics in terms of
FLYTHE- “The budget is more than 2.5m, although we won’t say how much more. We need the support of everyone. This cannot be done by the administration alone. We will need continued support from the alumni, community, students and businesses.” YARBROUGH- “We will beat the bushes and talk to everyone we can, to raise money. The guarantee games will also help out. Once you join the MEAC, the scheduling problems will go away and we will play teams our fans are familiar with.” BELLAIRS “We have got to be creative because of the economy.” 7- What is the university’s
position and perception
of Gender Equity as
it relates to Title IX?
FLYTHE “Title IX is mandated by state and federal law.” BELLAIRS- “We have made giant strides. We have dedicated a big portion of our enrollment increase and student fee increase to help Title IX. We surveyed the students in the spring to get a feel of what type sports they want. If you have three assistant men’s basketball coaches you must have three assistants for the women’s basketball team, no matter if they are male or female.”