SJC Board Unanimously Votes to Cut Four Athletic Teams


Courtesy of San Jacinto College Marketing, Public Relations and Government Affairs Department

Women’s and Men’s Basketball, Women’s Volleyball, and Men’s Soccer will be eliminated effective May 2018.

Tears and frustration filled the room at the San Jacinto College District Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 7 when four of six competitive sports teams were eliminated from the College’s athletics program. The Board unanimously voted to cut Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Women’s Volleyball, and Men’s Soccer in an effort to counter, what they said is the culmination of a decade’s worth of financial problems.

“To a large degree, it was a buildup. It’s something we’ve looked at for, probably, the last ten years,” Chairman of the Board Dan Mims said. “The funds just weren’t there.” 

The decision takes effect May 31, 2018, leaving baseball on the North Campus and softball on the South Campus as the only remaining San Jac sports teams. Many players, coaches, and community members attended the meeting to plead for reconsideration and make a case for keeping the programs alive.

Juel Rayburn, a sophomore setter on the Ravens volleyball team, was one of the athletes to speak at the meeting. During her five-minute plea to the Board, Rayburn said the San Jac volleyball program opened many doors for her as a 16-year-old student athlete.

“I graduated high school early, and most universities didn’t want a student or athlete that young, and San Jac gave me the opportunity to excel; not only as a student but as an athlete when I had no other chance to do that,” Rayburn said. “I want other kids to be able to push their limits and know that there’s a school for them as a student and an athlete.” 

Rayburn was one of the few to address the Board and although the programs were cut, Chancellor Brenda Hellyer thanked attendees for voicing their opinion.

“The students who came out and spoke did an outstanding job, and I appreciated their comments,” Hellyer said. “But in the end, the Board needed to make their decision one way or another.”

Mims and Hellyer outlined the next steps for the affected parties stressing the College’s commitment to helping employees make a smooth job transition and ensuring student athletes can complete their academic pursuits.

“The students, we are going to honor all their scholarships, so they can complete their academic career here,” Mims said. “Again, if they [the coaches] want to find coaching careers somewhere else, then we will do what we can to help them do that.”

“We want them [the students] to continue with us, and we want them to get their degree,” Hellyer added, “The important thing to focus on is that this decision is effective May of 2018. That’s 19 months away.”

Also, the Chancellor said the College wanted to give the coaching staff plenty of time to pursue other opportunities but emphasized: “we want you here and we will help transition.”  

As soon as the Board finalized the vote, somber spectators quietly made their way out of the meeting room. Echoing the grief of most in attendance, Juel Rayburn’s eyes filled with tears of frustration as she expressed her anger at the agonizing outcome.

“I’m really disappointed in who represents us as a school right now,” Rayburn said, “I’m sad. I’m hurt. I feel like we gave a lot of heart in that meeting.”