High 5 alums stunned by decision to end Furman baseball

College sports programs are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina announced it was discontinuing their baseball and men's lacrosse teams. Eight member of the Paladins baseball team went to high school in the High Five Sports area.

"We were told we had a mandatory team meeting with our athletic director," said pitcher Dylan Matela, a Milton High School graduate. "He told us it was going to be a tough call that we're going to remember. Dropped the dime on us and told us that our program was cut."

The decision shocked the team, which traces its origins back to 1891.

"When you're on, you can see like 25 different screens at one time," said pitcher Josh Germany, also a Milton High alumnus. "I remember looking across, and just seeing a blank face of disbelief."

Former Furman University pitcher Dylan Matela and his teammate Josh Germany talked to FOX 5 about the school discontinuing their program

The school says financial impacts from coronavirus led to the teams to be discontinued, as well as other changes.

"None of these decisions was easy or made lightly," said Furman president Elizabeth Davis in a statement on the school's website. "But I can say with great sincerity that each was carefully considered and adopted in the interest of advancing the university and fulfilling its academic mission."

Furman says they will honor scholarships for athletes affected by the changes. They will also honor scholarships for high school seniors that signed letters of intent and financial aid agreements to play at Furman.

Players say they now have tough decisions ahead.

"I've entered the transfer portal," said Matela, who just wrapped up his freshman season. "I'm currently looking around for a new school to go to and a new home where I can play and also continue academics."

Others are trying to figure out if their playing careers are over entirely.

"It's hard for me right now to decide, being a student athlete, do I focus more on being a student or being an athlete?" said Germany. "I'm a pre-med student. Junior year is one of the biggest years as far as classes to take and getting ready to take the MCAT (standardized test)."

In the days following the decision, the players said their former coaches have been very helpful. They've talked to players individually and, for those that want to, are trying to help them find new teams. 

"In sports, you always know that there's going to be a day where you play your last game," said Germany. "I'm at the point in my life where I have to think about, 'ok, have I actually already played my last game of baseball? Is the game that I've loved since I was 3 years old finally over in my life?'"

Here is a link to the statement and more information furman posted on their website: Furman University's statement on athletics changes.