By David Knox, Sports Editor
BIRMINGHAM – After a five-year hiatus, Jefferson State Community College will get back in the swing of athletics with the resuming of men’s and women’s golf, beginning in the upcoming school year.
The teams will begin this fall and compete in the Alabama Community College Conference and National Junior College Athletic Association.
“We are very pleased to bring athletics back to Jefferson State,” said Jefferson State Dean of Enrollment Dr. Mike Hobbs. “We are in a fantastic location for golf and look forward to all the benefits both teams will bring to our community and our college.”
There will be eight scholarships available for the men’s team and eight scholarships for the women’s team. Scholarships will cover tuition and fees.
Tryouts for the teams will be held in July at a date and site that has yet to be determined. To be eligible for tryouts, go to the Jeff State website at www.jeffersonstate.edu/golfteam. Those who desire to be eligible for the team need to be admissible to Jefferson State and comply with NJCAA eligibility rules.
A student at any of the four campuses – Jefferson (the original campus in Northeast Birmingham off Carson Road near Center Point), St. Clair-Pell City, Chilton/Clanton or Shelby-Hoover – is eligible.
“Jefferson State is dedicated to providing opportunities and we believe the addition of these teams will do just that,” said Hobbs. “It also gives our college and community something else to be excited about.”
It’s a different story from just five years ago, when Jeff State – and many other community colleges in the state – eliminated many of their athletics programs. Jeff State, which opened in 1965, was the first to make cuts, announcing in January 2011 that it would eliminate its softball team and its baseball team, which was founded in 1967. It had already killed men’s basketball, which had produced a national runner-up under Bill Lankford and starred future UAB coach and current Arkansas coach Mike Anderson.
In every case, college leaders said they regretted having to make the cuts but that they had no other option as they struggled to make ends meet.
At the time, Jeff State said that strapped administrators had to focus on their core mission: educating a student body that has boomed in recent years. Jeff State enrollment rose by almost 60 percent in 10 years, from 5,408 students in 1999 to 8,581 students in 2009.
According to the Jeff State website, the school now has 8,826 full-time students total on all four campuses.
Almost 50 percent of the students are enrolled at the Shelby-Hoover campus near Spain Park High School on Valleydale Road.
Are other sports in the future at Jeff State?
“At the moment, we are looking to only add golf,” said David Bobo, the school’s director of community and media relations. “We are continuing to examine the possibility of adding more, but it is too early to tell.”