Spelman College, here in Atlanta, has elected to discontinue its athletics program in favor of an improved fitness facility and wellness program. In speaking with the AJC, Dr. Beverly Tatum, President of Spelman, said “When I was looking at the decision, it wasn’t being driven by the cost as much as the benefit. With $1 million, 80 student-athletes are benefiting, or should we invest in a wellness program that would touch every student’s life?”
Dr. Tatum is more concerned with the students’ health and the responsibility to help. She said “one out of every two students has high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or is obese.” I have been to funerals of young alums who were not taking care of themselves,” she said, “and I believe we can change that pattern not only for them but for the broader community.”
The Division III school has been part of the Great South Athletic Conference in seven sports, including basketball, softball and tennis. Tatum said the school was sending a letter to the NCAA saying the Spelman would be withdrawing from the conference and would no longer have an athletics program. Instead, the school plans to expand wellness programs and renovate it’s fitness facilities.
“We are trying to meet students where they are in terms of their interest, but also helping them understand that the elements of wellness … are the kinds of things that are going to help them avoid the kinds of illnesses that are killing African-American women far too early,” Tatum said.