Saint Augustine's University, debt

Saint Augustine’s University Suspends Football Program Amid Financial Struggles

Earlier this year, the university was hit with a $7.9 million IRS tax lien.

As BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported, Saint Augustine’s University is in the middle of a fight to retain its accreditation, and in its effort to stay solvent, the university has made the choice to suspend its football program. 

As CBS 17 reported, the Interim President of Saint Augustine’s, Dr. Marcus Burgess said in an interview that the financial situation he has inherited necessitates the decision. 

“It will take roughly 27 to 28 million dollars and 30 million for good judgment because there’s still deferred maintenance pieces that have to happen.”

Between the university not being able to pay its employees for three pay periods in a row, the university going mostly virtual, and the university working with utility companies and vendors, the university is in for an uphill battle, one Dr. Burgess says he is in until the end.

“I have had employees tell me they’re sticking by us, but it’s really tough. I am in the same situation because the bills keep coming,” Burgess said. “I have not thought about leaving in spite of what people may think. I am here until the job is done.”

The school’s financial situation means that in all likelihood, the wrongful termination lawsuit filed in 2023 by the school’s last head football coach, Howard Feggins, may never be heard, Sports Illustrated reported.

As Inside Higher Ed reported, a $7.9 million tax lien from the IRS against the university was filed earlier this year for two years of unpaid taxes. The university is also facing action from vendors like FieldTurfUSA, who filed a separate $598,000 lien against the university over payments owed for an artificial turf field. The university’s former president, Christine McPhail, is also suing the university, alleging that the school’s mostly male Board of Trustees discriminated against her and others for being Black women.

The bills and lawsuits are piling up for the university, and Inside Higher Ed noted that a potential solution for the university might be to switch accreditation bodies. 

Bennett College and Paine College, two universities that were formerly affiliated with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, switched accreditors after losing accreditation and their appeals to the body. They are now fully accredited colleges with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

As WRAL reported, the university has raised $224,182 of its $5 million goal for fundraising, which appears to have been spearheaded by a push from alumni. SAU alumna Olivia Huckaby told the outlet that the situation the school and its employees are in is troubling. “It’s a little unsettling, I’ll be honest.”

Huckaby continued, “All alumni chapters for the university are running the ‘$18.67 Challenge,'” Huckaby explained. “You can donate $18.67, which is the year we were founded, to help support those fundraising efforts.”

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