OKLAHOMA Christian suspends baseball program, makes other cuts

Wednesday, July 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma Christian University has suspended its baseball program as part of an overall effort to cut costs, officials said.

Dropping the program, as well as trimming 12 positions and other reductions, will save $500,000 a year, Jim Stafford, a spokesman for the Oklahoma City school, said Tuesday.

The position cuts will include jobs in student housing, the mail room and the business office.

``This was a difficult decision. ... We will assist our players any way we can by helping them transfer to other teams and by honoring their scholarships if they choose to remain at Oklahoma Christian for the 2001-2002 school year,'' acting President Alfred C. Branch said in a news release.

The timing of the news leaves Brett Stephens, Mike Piper and their teammates scrambling to find spots on other schools' rosters.

``I don't think they're considerate of the baseball players, particularly because of the timing,'' said Stephens, a pitcher. ``They didn't think about the effects it would have on us by doing this now. Well into the summer, there aren't a lot of sports left at other schools.''

For Piper, a senior outfielder, said he has to make a decision quickly.

``I could stay at OC and be on scholarship and finish my education, but I want to play ball,'' he said.

``The problem we're faced with is that most schools have given out their scholarship money. I'm angered they waited this long to make a decision.''

Athletic Director Dan Hays said the school ``hopes to have baseball back someday ... and said the school isn't ``a crumbling athletic program.''

Assistant coach Bryan Shepherd said he has been making contacts for the players.

``The response from the schools I've talked to has been favorable. I think everyone will at least have some options,'' Shepherd said.

Branch said Oklahoma Christian's other 12 athletic programs will continue competing.