Sunday, May 19

‘It’s a shock’: Indian River State College eliminates women’s basketball program

The Indian River State College Lady Pioneers wrapped up their hoops season last Thursday, but the team was stunned this week to find out it was their last season.

“It’s a shock,” freshman forward Elesi Simmons said.

The team was called into a Monday meeting with the athletic director and was told the program was being cut.

“It caught me by total surprise,” head coach Jamarra Robinson said. “I had no idea that this would happen.”

Robinson, a graduate of St. Lucie County schools, said it was a chance for her to stay home and help future generations of young women.

“At the college level, the parents entrust us to look out for the young ladies,” Robinson said.

But after 99 wins over six years, conference championships and four state tournament appearances, Robinson’s tenure is over, much to the disappointment of her players.

“I like her. I like what she’s doing,” Simmons, who will now transfer to another school, said. “She’s different.”

“Coach Rob put a lot of hard work into the program, and they canceled it, so it’s kind of tough,” sophomore shooting guard Bri Washington said.

“The athletic program at Indian River State College has always been a loss leader from a financial standpoint,” college spokeswoman Suzanne Seldes said.

She added that the entire athletics department was scrutinized during the last budget year.

Some athletic rosters were reduced and the established criteria was not just focused on wins and losses, but GPAs, retention rates and graduation rates.

“But it’s really important that we invest wisely in the work that we do for the college,” Seldes said.

Seldes could not say how much money the women’s hoops program was in the red. WPTV has requested financial statements from the college.

Women’s hoops was not the only program impacted.

The school’s Esports team was eliminated, and the volleyball team will drop down a division so the college wouldn’t have to provide as much aid.

“We thought that’s what we would do,” Robinson said. “We would lose scholarships, but to cancel the program that came as a complete shock.”

Robinson, like her players, is searching for whats next.

“I’m open. I’m on the search for the next opportunity,” Robinson said. “I just want to make sure that my young ladies at the school are OK.”

Robinson is also taking pride in the fact that two of her players who have moved on to play at bigger programs will be taking part in the Women’s NCAA Tournament tipping off this week.

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