Former Regis Jesuit High School lacrosse attacker Anders Erickson earned a Division I scholarship to Furman University and rose to become team captain for the 2020-21 season. And then, halfway through the season, he was informed his team would no longer exist.
“It blindsided me,” Erickson said.
Furman — a private liberal arts university in Greenville, S.C. — announced May 18 it was discontinuing its men’s lacrosse and baseball programs with the school citing “dramatic reductions in revenue” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It follows a growing national trend of typically smaller colleges cutting non-revenue producing sports, including:
• Akron — cross country (m), golf (m), tennis (w)
• Appalachian State — soccer (m), tennis (m), indoor track and field (m)
• Bowling Green — baseball
• Cincinnati — soccer (m)
• Central Michigan — indoor/outdoor track and field (m)
• East Carolina — swimming (m/w), tennis (m/w)
• Old Dominion — wrestling
Many more universities are looking at possible cuts.
Furman, while located about 1,500 miles east of the Rocky Mountains, was home to a strong contingent of Colorado athletes. In lacrosse, Erickson was joined by senior midfielder Chad Kreuzer (Monarch) plus incoming freshman signee Trevor Douglas (Arapahoe). In baseball, pitcher Austin Wood (Silver Creek) was on the team.
Wood, a right-handed senior who graduated in May, said he felt program momentum building with the recent installation of new seats and a video board at Latham Stadium. Furman’s baseball team, founded in 1896, tied its win total record (33) in Wood’s freshman season. His senior year was canceled after 17 games because of coronavirus.
Wood discovered the baseball program’s demise while playing golf with his family at Colorado National in Boulder. On about the third hole, Wood said he received a text from one of his Furman coaches: Mandatory Zoom in call in two hours.
The team was stunned when Furman athletic director Jason Donnelly broke the news.
“It was a true blindside for us,” Wood said. “The team stuck together really tight and expected to come back. I never had any idea this would be happening. I thought we were in a better place than ever. … I’m really fortunate because I’ve graduated and had a really amazing four years at Furman. I’m just more heartbroken for our young guys and the incoming freshmen.”
Furman’s Colorado athlete contingent had made their campus of fewer than 3,000 students feel a bit more like home.
“I was in biology with Anders last fall and I saw Chad around all the time,” Wood said. “We all get together for football tailgates. Furman really is a family.”
Erickson, a sophomore, has now entered the transfer portal with at least two more years of NCAA eligibility left. But the scars of losing his team to forces outside of his control will require time to heal.
“It’s been pretty brutal,” Erickson said. “Having the season cut short felt incomplete and it wasn’t fair to the seniors. Then to go through this has been another layer to the whole mess. It’s tough. I haven’t seen my teammates in three months now, and to know that was the last time we’re going to be together as a group is hard.
“No one wants to go through this, but we’re still very close and talking every day.”
This content was originally published here.