‘Wolverines together’: Grove City discusses COVID-19 impact on small college athletics

Coronavirus

Grove City College is an NCAA Division III school that does not offer athletic scholarships, forcing seniors to make a tough decision for next spring

GROVE CITY, Pa. (WKBN) – It’s been six weeks since the NCAA officially canceled spring sports.

In Mercer County, Grove City College is making adjustments like many other small schools across the country. They’re a Division III program with around 450 athletes but no athletic scholarships.

“Every college in America, whether Division I or Division III, it doesn’t matter if you’re at Duke or you’re at Grove City College, everybody is in the same situation,” said Grove City athletic director Todd Gibson.

The coronavirus has been called the “great equalizer” and that’s certainly true for college sports across the country. Grove City was in the midst of one of its best sports years in school history.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams were fresh off conference championships, with both swimming programs also bringing home conference crowns. The spring sports were also on pace for a big year, but now those seniors will likely not get another chance.

With no athletic scholarships, the decision to come back for another year of eligibility is much more complicated.

“Several [senior] athletes already had jobs locked down since September or October and now those jobs are no longer available,” Gibson said. “We really have been trying to be encouraging. Being a Christian college, we’re relying on your faith as a bridge to get us through this time period.”

Gibson, a Champion grad, said less than 10% of those seniors will return next spring. Their main focus now is on the fall sports, which are typically the big moneymakers for most college athletic programs. That includes Grove City, which routinely draws thousands of fans to its home football games in the fall.

“I’ve heard everything, from the fall sports will be played in the spring, to some fall sports will start on time if schools are open and some might be delayed,” Gibson said. “There’s been very little conversation about sports being canceled [next year].”

Gibson said it’s a process that’s constantly changing but they’re choosing to stay positive with a two-pronged approach — stay home and control what you can control.

“We need to do the best job of any college in the country of trying to win this period of time,” he said. “The phrase that we use a lot is ‘Wolverines together.'”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending on WKBN.com