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Southern University at New Orleans Suspends Athletics

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Southern University at New Orleans is hitting pause on athletics.

The public historically black university in New Orleans, La. announced the decision Monday with an internal email that said the school will suspend all intercollegiate programs at the conclusion of the 2019-20 school year.

According to NOLA.com, SUNO Interim Chancellor Dr. James H. Ammons released a memo saying that the suspension is for “an unspecified period” of time. The memo also noted that 56 student-athletes, four head coaches and one assistant coach will be affected across the university’s five programs – men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s track and field, women’s track and field, and women’s volleyball.

The decision was made for financial reasons at a school that had only $6.7 million of its $15.3 million operating loss from 2017-18 accounted for by state aid, according to NOLA.com. SUNO has been placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges for the second straight year. The accrediting agency said that reduced enrollment, including just 2,308 students this semester, and state budget cuts led SUNO to lack the resources to support its programs and services. The school’s athletic expenses for 2019-20 were budgeted at $795,918, including $356,800 for women’s athletics, $244,400 for men’s athletics and $195,000 for other expenses.

“Our analysis revealed significant budget shortfalls due to the operations of athletics,” Ammons said, as the school could lose its accreditation if it doesn’t prove financial stability by March. “In order to improve SUNO’s fiscal health and its academic programs, we must take all appropriate measures to ensure financial stability and sustainability.”

The SUNO website notes that the school has won eight national championships and 13 conference championships while featuring 200 All-Americans and six Olympians. SUNO won four national titles at the 2019 NAIA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships in May, while the Lady Knights won the team title in 2018.

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