PASADENA, Texas (FOX 26) - This could possibly be a first for a Texas college. Within minutes of starting its meeting, the nine-member San Jacinto College board voted unanimously to discontinue the men's and women's basketball, men's soccer and women's volleyball programs effective as of May 2018. It was standing room only at the board meeting on Monday night.
"I never thought I would see the day, the school that took me from Washington, D.C., full circle, to go to college (Maryland), to be where I am today," said former Houston Rockets guard Steve Francis in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. He played at San Jacinto College from 1996 until 1997. "All the teachers there, I'm always grateful. It's going to be hard. I'm still a Raven, no matter what."
Several speakers, including a former basketball coach, sang the praises and extolled the virtues that the teams bring to the junior college, but the board members' overall concern is money -- $17-to-20 million for a complete gym replacement at the central campus and at least $15 million for just a renovation.
"I think what I'm most disappointed in, they didn't even seem like that they reached out to try and save it," said former San Jacinto College basketball coach Ronnie Arrow. He led three Ravens teams to national championships. He compared removing the Ravens program from junior college basketball to taking "bacon away from eggs, peanut butter away from jelly."
Needless to say, many students were upset with the decision -- some were even crying as they ran out of the building on Monday night. Several of them told FOX 26 News that board members had already made up their minds prior to the meeting and felt that students should have been given more time to try a fundraising effort and other avenues.
San Jacinto College said it will honor its commitment to current student athletes as well as those who have signed their National Letters of Intent to play here. The college also said it would seek transitional opportunities within the institution for credentialed faculty who also serve as coaches.