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acerunner

Hard place to place student athletes in.

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EDITOR'S PICK URGENT
COLLEGE ATHLETICS

Region student athletes concerned about financial crisis at St. Joseph's College

 
Whiting's Courtney Blackwell uncertain about plans to go to St. Joseph's College
 

Whiting senior Courtney Blackwell committed to play softball at St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer in November. But the college is under extreme financial stress and looking to raise $100 million dollars. Blackwell is uncertain what she will do.

 
Hanover Central's Alexis Mokos uncertain about future at St. Joseph's College
 
  • John Smierciak, file, The Times

Hanover Central catcher Alexis Mokos, left, signed her National Letter of Intent to play softball at St. Joseph's College. But the school has been put on probation for deep financial issues and Mokos is uncertain what she is going to do now.

 
 
 
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First it was a text. Then an email. And in an instant everything changed.

In a little over two months a life-long dream come true has turned into a potential nightmare for several area student athletes.

Both Courtney Blackwell of Whiting and Alexis Mokos of Hanover Central got a text from St. Joseph's College softball coach Audra (Rains) May about the looming financial crisis at the school.

Then, an email about the need for $100 million dollars to keep the school afloat and $20 million dollars by June 1, or else.

Both Blackwell and Mokos signed their National Letter of Intent to St. Joe's in November.

"I've been told they need $20 million dollars by June or they're going to close," Mokos said. "I started crying. It was devastating. I don't know what I'm going to do."

"It broke my heart," Blackwell said. "I fell in love with the school, the coaches and the girls on the team there. It was my dream. Now, I don't know what's going to happen."

According to the rosters on the St. Joe's website, there are 74 student athletes currently participating in sports for the Pumas. And there are many more, like Blackwell and Mokos, who have committed to play there next year.

If next year actually comes for the school that's been in business since 1891.

The president of the college, Robert A. Pastoor, sent a letter out to the school alumni in January stating that St. Joseph's College was put on probation by the Higher Learning Commission due to the cash woes.

 
 
 
 

Athletic director Bill Massoels didn't respond to The Times' request for comment on Monday.

This uncertain future isn't just affecting the students. It's having an emotional impact on families as well.
 

 

"It broke my daughter's heart," said Dave Blackwell, Courtney's father. "It's so difficult for a kid to get a college scholarship and when they get it, you're so happy. St. Joe's is the perfect place for Courtney, and now we won't know for another week if it's still there."

Both Blackwell and Mokos have heard that it's possible if $20 million is raised the school could stay open for another year, then the fundraising would start all over again, which is problematic for both.

Mokos is a catcher for the Wildcats and Blackwell is a pitcher for the Oilers. The issue if they choose to look for another college to attend next fall is most programs are full for the Class of 2017.

Both plan to study physical therapy.

"This has been very stressful," Mokos said. "It's been awful. I'm hoping something positive comes out of this."

The college board of trustees is meeting on Thursday and Friday this week and an announcement about the future of the school is expected soon thereafter.

"I'm hoping something great happens," Blackwell said. "But everything is up in the air right now."

One thing upsetting is we had a Recruiting visit here a week ago and nothing was mentioned at all to my son.

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14 hours ago, acerunner said:
One thing upsetting is we had a Recruiting visit here a week ago and nothing was mentioned at all to my son.

I have a buddy who played basketball there and I text him when I heard news about it.  He said he spoke with his former coach and according to him, the coaches were mostly in the dark.  Like, I think they knew that the financial situation was tight and that money had been mismanaged, but they had no idea to the extent nor how dire the situation truly was.  I don't even think St. Joe's planned on making this public until a later date and the only reason they put out a statement was because somebody leaked (even though I have no idea how they thought it wouldn't get out) one of the emails that had been sent to either the campus family or the greater alumni base.

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My son loved the visit, i liked what Coach Day had to say. We were just waiting on them to get thier paperwork finished. Hard to pursue that option now

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Coach Stokes sent an email that said their SJC Summer Team camp is still good to go for Mid June.   My hunch says SJC football is playing next year, but no doubt their is a black cloud unfairly placed over all their athletic teams.   Love Coach Day and his staff, they will get it figured out and glad to call them friends. 

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Does anyone know what the NCAA ramifications are for athletes if the school would close.

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16 minutes ago, acerunner said:

Does anyone know what the NCAA ramifications are for athletes if the school would close.

By no means is this 100%, but I'm sure it would be similar to that of UAB closing down their program a few years back.  I believe all student-athletes were free to transfer wherever they pleased with no penalty, a la Jordan Howard who transferred to IU for one season before turning pro and becoming a Pro-Bowl running back for the Bears this season.

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As an alumnus of SJC i am thoroughly disgusted and heart broken that the school is suspending operations (It is most likely closing because there is no way they will raise $ 130 million in 2 years.  The past 5 years has been totally mismanaged and the Board of Trustees did nothing to help find a solution.  Not once did the alumni get a letter stating the sad state of affairs.  I believe the C.PP.S. who sponsored the school want to close it and sell it to someone. Almosst 40 years to the day the Administration Building burned down the school is closing.  But I am a Puma for life.

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On 4/14/2017 at 11:40 AM, Indian72 said:

As an alumnus of SJC i am thoroughly disgusted and heart broken that the school is suspending operations (It is most likely closing because there is no way they will raise $ 130 million in 2 years.  The past 5 years has been totally mismanaged and the Board of Trustees did nothing to help find a solution.  Not once did the alumni get a letter stating the sad state of affairs.  I believe the C.PP.S. who sponsored the school want to close it and sell it to someone. Almosst 40 years to the day the Administration Building burned down the school is closing.  But I am a Puma for life.

Personal, yes, but yet another reason why I dislike the church I was born into.  There is plenty of money across the world.  

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The thought of Rick O'dette having to leave our community continues to sadden me to no end.  

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