SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah State University officially announced it will be reclassifying its athletics and moving down to Division II pending NCAA approval.
The Tigers have been playing Division 1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference since 2000.
Officials say the decision was made after months of deliberation.
Students and student-athletes protested after the official announcement Monday afternoon, saying "MEAC is for us, D-II is for you," as they are not happy about what they call a step backward for Tigers athletics.
"I don't feel good at all. Honestly, we as a student body do not feel that going down to Division Two is something that's right for the students or the school. We feel as that it's a backwards step, and that we're trying to progress as a HBCU, and feel that Savannah State is on the rise, so going down to Division Two is not something that's best for the students or the school itself," said SSU Quarterback, David Handler.
During a press conference, the university said they are making efforts to reclassify all athletic teams and should be able to, pending NCAA approval.
This is expected to be a two or three-year process. President Cheryl Dozier and Athletic Director Sterling Steward say it was no longer financially feasible for the Tigers to play at the top level of college athletics.
Savannah State has struggled at the D-1 level. Just last April, two teams we banned from the postseason after falling short of the NCAA academic benchmark.
President Dozier asks that alum and fans hang tight thought this transition to hopefully get back to winning ways.
Administrators say they are speaking to a couple of DII conferences they think they would be a good fit in. HBCU Athletics says they applaud their courage to make the hard decision to move down. This could be a trend we see more of with HBCU programs in the near future.