Local athletes impacted by closing of Birmingham Southern

Published 1:48 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2024

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This week the announcement that one of the oldest colleges in Alabama, Birmingham Southern College, was closing caught a lot of people off guard and has impacted current and future students of the college, including a trio of local athletes.

Back in February, Charles Henderson seniors Dertavious Lee and Sterling Sharp signed to play college football at Birmingham Southern, while Pike County senior Markelis Hobdy signed with the school just this month.

“It caught me off guard,” Hobdy said. “I was in school yesterday and received an E-Mail about the closing and some of my coaches came to me about it. It confused me and was shocking to me. I was really lost for words and didn’t know how to react.”

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Birmingham Southern had been in financial trouble for some time but the passing of a bill that would offer loans to struggling private and public institutions in the state seemed like it would become a lifeline for the school that has been in operation since 1856. Unfortunately, the state rejected the school’s application for the loan and Birmingham Southern’s Board of Trustees voted to close the school as a result.

Lee said that he didn’t think the school would close but started getting worried as time went on.

“I saw every other team in their conference releasing their schedules but never saw Birmingham Southern release theres, which kind of made me wonder,” Lee recalled. “Then, the receiver coach said he was going to stop coaching football a few weeks ago. That kind of got me but the head coach told me that if anything went down with the university we would be the first to know. I heard the news about it around noon when my mom said they sent an E-mail saying the school was shutting down.”

Sharp said that he knew it was a possibility but felt like the school would remain open.

“They were very transparent about it. We knew it was a risk, that it was one of those things that could happen,” he said. “We saw the possibility of it happening but didn’t think it would.”

College recruitment is a long – and sometimes grueling – experience for athletes and now the three will have to go back to the recruiting trail. In fact, all three have already received offers and attention from other schools.

“A few college coaches have already hit me up,” Lee said. “I’m going to wait throughout the process and see how it goes. Whatever school fits me – and the one I like the best – is where I’ll end up going. I’m not in a rush, though.”

Hobdy echoed Lee’s sentiments about not getting in a rush.

“I’ve had several coaches that reached out after the announcement,” Hobdy said. “Once the E-Mail went out my Twitter started blowing up and various coaches from small Division I, Division II, Division III and JUCOs were hitting me up asking for film and everything. I’ve already had a lot of attention. I’m just trying to take it one step at a time and not get in a rush about it.”

Sharp is also weighing his options.

“After the news got out, coaches started reaching out to me,” he said. “My recruitment is 100 percent back open and I’m just weighing my options.”

The trio said that they are primarily looking for a place that feels like home to continue chasing their college football dreams.

“When it comes to me, I love building relationships with coaches that make me feel like I’m at home and a place where I’ll be well respected and treated well,” Hobdy emphasized. “That’s mainly what it is for me, I just want to be in a good place that will be the right place for me, where I feel comfortable at and where I feel at home.”

Sharp said that the reason he was going to Birmingham Southern was that it felt like home, so his next step will be finding another home.

“I’m looking for a home type of feel,” Sharp said. “The reason I was going to Birmingham Southern is that it felt like home to me. I’m looking for a school that reminds me of home. That’s where I’ll go.”