Some Oklahoma Christian University athletes say they were caught off guard news the Junior Varsity men’s basketball team would be cut.
For sophomore Kellen Ferguson, a sports management major, this change sent ripples throughout his life. Ferguson’s decision to attend Oklahoma Christian was highly swayed by connections he had to the JV basketball team.
“I looked at the Oklahoma Christian JV basketball team as a chance to continue my basketball career after high school,” Ferguson said. “My uncle is a sportscaster for a local TV station and had some connection to, at the time, head coach Cory Cole.”
A text message from Coach Kendre Talley on Thursday, Sept. 5, is all the information Ferguson said he received about the team being cut.
The team being cut shocked Ferguson, others on the team and prospective recruits. Ferguson believes the decision was unfair and left them high and dry despite the team’s best efforts.
“The coaching staff and the varsity players made us feel welcomed and a part of the team,” Ferguson said. “The only problem was with the lack of practices, you don’t get to see some of those guys or really interact with them as much as you do when you are grinding, working out and practicing every day. It was a shock and disappointment to other players looking forward to joining the team.”
This affected Ferguson because while he is from Edmond, he moved on campus so he could be more available for practices and schoolwork. He said the extra costs associated with living on campus now seem unnecessary.
“I moved on campus 15 minutes away from my family and childhood friends to stay focused on my class work and make sure I was able to be around when we had practices or any other available workouts,” Ferguson said. “Now part of me feels that I threw even more money into a very expensive school for nothing.”
Despite the team being cut without advance notice, Ferguson is still hopeful about the prospect of playing for the varsity team while he attends Oklahoma Christian.
“I have not fully ruled it out, but if I continue my education at Oklahoma Christian University, I would enjoy the chance to be a part of and compete with the guys in the Eagles basketball family,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson was not the only player who felt the situation was unfair. Fellow sophomore Jarail Allen said he was disappointed in the way things turned out.
“I feel that during my freshman year it wasn’t organized well, and it didn’t seem like the players really got the chance to show their skills to the coaches,” Ferguson said. “It didn’t have the same level of focus that varsity got, even though we were part of the Eagle family.”
“I was unable to play my freshman year due to GPA issues, but I was staying focused to try and play this year,” Allen said. “Now it seems like I just stayed at [Oklahoma Christian] for no reason. I was disappointed because I could’ve pursued other avenues but did not get the chance.”
Oklahoma Christian head basketball coach Kendre Talley said the decision was made because there were only a few true JV players on the team last year, with varsity players often joining them.
“There was only one guy who played last year that returned to the university,” Talley said. “The team was mixed of 2 actual JV guys and then some varsity guys.”