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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Former St. Augustine’s football players describe suspension of 2024 football as ‘heartbreaking’


When St. Augustine’s interim president Marcus Burgess announced the suspension of the 2024 football season two weeks ago, sophomore offensive lineman Antonio Odom had one thought in mind.

“I’ll just say it’s truly heartbreaking to hear. We put a lot of time and effort into the previous season trying to turn the program around despite all of the hardships we faced as not only athletes but students as well,” Odom told HBCU Sports. “I pray one day they are able to come back from this, and the Falcons can have a chance to rebuild again.”

Said sophomore edge rusher Jacoby Wall: “It’s a very unfortunate situation right now. Hopefully, they will figure everything out and get back to being a stable university.”

The Falcons went 0-10 during the 2023 season, a year marked with controversy as first-year head coach Howard Feggins was fired six games into the season amid alleged intimidation by the university during

And that was only the beginning of the football program’s troubles.

Most recently, Burgess appeared on a Raleigh TV station to explain the dire straits the university was in and how football would be a casualty of the situation.

Howard Feggins, SAU
Howard Feggins was fired just six games into the 2023 season. Photo: SAU Athletics

Burgess said the university would need roughly $30 million for the school to be considered in good judgment to address deferred maintenance issues. The school also failed to make payroll as recently as February, forcing professors to cancel classes. To make matters worse, the IRS hit the university with a $7.9 million tax lien.

The school then announced that students would complete their spring semester courses online. Burgess has maintained the university would not close despite all its issues.

“We were aware about the school’s issues towards the end of the season but we were more affected by the firing of Coach Feggins,” Wall said.

“I have heard that situations like this happened before in the past,” Odom said. “But you would never assume that they would happen again.”

The suspension of the Falcons’ football program has directly impacted the players’ immediate futures as several athletes, including Wall, who is now at Catawba (NC) College. Several other players have entered the transfer portal as well.

SAU CAMPUS
The future of St. Augustine’s University is uncertain amid financial woes. Photo: St. Augustine’s University

“For me, it wasn’t difficult on finding a new home because I started my recruitment early. But speaking to other players, it has been extremely difficult on them finding a new school on the fly,” Wall said. “I just feel bad for the freshmen or guys that redshirted that don’t have much film because they wasted a year at St. Augustine’s.”

Said Odom: “With the transfer portal being live, finding a home for some has not been an issue. We already have a lot of players that are already beginning their careers at different universities, however we still do have a lot of athletes still struggling to find homes.”

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