Sunshine State Conference ‘wait-lists’ Saints

By Devon Jeffreys |

To wait or not to wait? That is the question that currently plagues the Flagler College Athletic Department.

The Saints received word by phone in early March that they would not be granted admission into the NCAA Div. II Sunshine State Conference for the 2008 or 2009 seasons.

“I received word from the conference that the presidents of the conference voted to continue to study the possibility of expansion and to encourage the member institutions to schedule athletic contests with Flagler College and Palm Beach Atlantic University,” Flagler College President Dr. William T Abare, Jr. said in a statement. “No specific date has been set for completing the study and making a decision.”

The decision was a 5-4 vote with six votes needed for expansion. While no specific date has been set, Athletic Director Dave Barnett said he was told by SSC commissioner Mike Marcil that it would not come to a vote again until 2010.

But according to Assistant Athletic Director Taylor Mott, Flagler still has not received anything in writing from the Sunshine State Conference regarding the vote and everything they’ve been told so far has been word of mouth.

This puts Flagler in a compromising position because it is not clear exactly where they stand. After the school was notified by phone, Mott expressed frustration in the process and seeming conclusion.

“I’m disappointed with the decision, or lack of decision,” Mott said. “We were hoping to be given a reason why we weren’t accepted, even though we’re still kind of on hold.”

While Flagler waits for a formal response from the Sunshine State Conference, other options are few.

The most reasonable option for the Saints would be the Peach Belt Conference, which holds teams from Georgia and South Carolina. Flagler would be the southernmost school, but the travel would not be much greater than when the Saints go to Miami to play, and the southern appeal might aid recruiting. Other options that have been mentioned include the Gulf South Conference and the possibility of a brand new conference created by Flagler.

Mott said while she, Barnett, Abare and Compliance Director Sherri Holt met two weeks ago for their monthly meeting, no new options were discussed because Flagler is waiting to hear from the Sunshine State Conference in a formal letter.

Reached in early March, Abare said he was willing to wait for a firm decision from the SSC.

Though they’re still on hold for a conference, the Saints will file their annual report with the NCAA on June 1. If all goes well with the review of the report, the Saints hope to be granted full member status in time for fall sports. Full-member status would also make the Saints post-season eligible as an independent.
“We’ve been told by the folks at the NCAA that everything looks good,” Abare said.

SSC passed on Palm Beach Atlantic University for 2008-2009 as well.

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