|Wayne Carrell wanted to play Division I baseball when he graduated from Hueytown High School, but he didn't quite have the grades or the funds for a four-year school.
So Carrell went to Jefferson State Community College, where he got a full scholarship, the chance to work on his grades and plenty of playing time. But then Jeff State announced plans to eliminate its athletic programs at the end of this school year, leaving him looking for other options.
Around the state, community college administrators have started eliminating athletics programs, saying shrinking resources are forcing them to choose between paying for classrooms or playing fields. But athletes and sports fans say the demise of such programs, many of which have been around for decades, will leave a hole in their campuses and their communities.
Four Alabama community colleges have cut all or some athletics this year, including Gadsden State Community College, which announced its plans Tuesday. There may be more to come, said Al Cox, commissioner of the Alabama Community College Conference, which represents 10 sports at 21 schools.
"We think athletics is an important part of any college environment," Cox said. "It creates a lot of esprit de corps on campus. And in many of our smaller communities where we have our colleges, that's the hot ticket in town to go to the juco baseball or basketball game."