SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah State athletic director Opio Mashariki says the Tigers are disappointed in the SIAC’s decision to suspend fall sports, but understand the reasoning and plan to honor it as they sit out the fall season as well.
But the Tigers say they’ll keep their options open if the conference doesn’t play those suspended sports in the spring.
“Our student-athletes are competitors. The nature of competition is to be ready to rise to the occasion when the occasion calls” Mashariki said during a virtual press conference Friday afternoon. “We want to play, as long as we can do it safely.”
Mashariki says he anticipates a decision from the SIAC on a spring football season in the next few weeks.
He adds the school will look into other options if the conference decides against a spring season, including possibly playing as an independent and filling a schedule on their own.
“That’s a possibility. We won’t rule anything out,” Mashariki says. “We have to all look at our own institutions and make sure that we can do it safely. If Savannah State can do it, then there’s a possibility that we can find some other schools to play this spring.”
Mashariki was asked if the school would consider trying to play this fall as an independent if the SIAC ruled out a spring season for suspended fall sports. He reiterated they plan to follow the conference.
Mashariki says athletic workouts will continue as normal until “there is some definitivity as to what we’re doing in the spring and we hear some legislation from the NCAA.”
Mashariki says the school is assessing the financial impact of not having a football season this fall, but says he believes SSU’s system would prevent a major loss.
“We operate off of student fees. 90% of our budget is off of those student fees, not necessarily the revenue generated from home football games,” Mashariki says. “Right now, I don’t see there being a huge impact. But that may change. We’ll be making assessments as we continue to move forward.”
QUINN: WE’LL BE READY
Head football coach Shawn Quinn says Thursday night’s team meeting to answer questions about the suspension was one of the toughest he’s ever led.
“It felt a lot like, ‘Hey guys, Christmas is canceled,‘” he says. “We took all the presents and sent them home.”
But Quinn says the Tigers will stay ready for when the time comes to step on the field, whenever that may be.
“We want to play. Wherever that is. Whenever it is. Whoever it is,” Quinn says. “You have to do it within the rules and safety of whatever those protocols are.”
Quinn says he’s been in contact with a number of teams and leagues to stay on top of the situation and potential future matchups.
He says the challenge now is working out the logistics of playing this spring, then potentially again months later in the traditional fall slate. Quinn says he’s spoken to Division II coaches across the country and presented some ideas as a group of what a calendar could look like under that scenario.
“It might not be a 15-game season. It might just be a 10 or 11 game season with a championship,” he says. “There’s a whole lot of variables to it.”