JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Institute of Technology announced on Monday that it will shutter its football program in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a move that hits home for quite a few area players.
Florida Tech president Dwayne McCay said that the steps, which also include staff reductions and furloughs, are both “painful” and “necessary” as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt. The Panthers are an NCAA Division II program that went 5-6 last year and played in the Gulf South Conference with defending national champion West Florida.
“The unprecedented uncertainty created by COVID-19 makes these moves prudent, but no less painful,” McCay said in a letter to the school. “We must do what is necessary to preserve resources critical to our educational mission and ensure our ability to successfully serve students when face-to-face instruction resumes this fall. I appreciate each of you, and I am humbled by your hard work and sacrifice.”
The football program started in 2011 and plays in the Gulf South Conference. Six area players were on the Florida Tech roster last year, coming from local programs Bradford, First Coast, Glynn Academy, Mandarin, Ribault and Trinity Christian. Three area players in the Class of 2020 had also signed with Florida Tech.
Two players who transferred to Florida Tech from Jacksonville University’s now-defunct football program, Jake Howell and Drezyn Parson, were also on the roster. Players on scholarship will have those honored for up to four years, a release from the program said.