By Elliott Propes
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
In 2011, the news broke that Bevill State would be discontinuing all of its sports. It hit hard with many athletes and the communities around the campuses of Bevill State. Five years later on May 11, Bevill State President Larry Ferguson announced that three campuses will bring back sports in 2017. One of which is the baseball team to the Fayette campus.
"The College Leadership thought very long and hard about bringing athletics back to Bevill State," Ferguson said. "It was not an easy decision to make, but based on the encouragement of the communities we serve, feedback from out students, and the desire to create more opportunities for student engagement at the College, a decision was made to begin with what we are calling a 'prototype' model. It is our hope that this model, coupled with the continued support from our students and communities will be successful."
This "prototype" model has an alternative funding structure to support baseball, men's basketball at the Jasper Campus and women's softball on the Sumiton Campus. Ferguson said the baseball program along with the others were chosen because of existing facilities, the history and which would bring more student engagement.
The baseball program began in Fayette in 1983. The program had some success, especially in the early 2000's. In 2001 and 2003 Bevill won the state title. Both of those years the Bears finished well in the NJCAA tournament. The Bears finished third in 2003 and fifth in 2001 under coach Ed Langham. Langham, along with coaching, played for the first Bevill team in 1983. He was excited to hear the news that the program would be reinstated.
"I was just excited being a (former) player and coach there to know that, that opportunity was going to come back for some kids," Langham said. "I have a lot of great memories there. So I just want some other people to have great memories out there as well."
Bevill will be brought back into the Alabama Community College Conference in fall 2017. There is a lot of competition in the conference and ACCC commissioner, Dean Myrick, is glad to add back another team that has a rich history in the conference.
"All I've heard were great things where they used to have athletics. The community support was always there. So it's always good to get them back," Myrick said. "In baseball going back through some plaques that I've run across in storage they seem to have been very successful. Baseball right now in the conference has been hugely successful. So to add one more not only a quality team, but a quality institution academically to go with athletics is always good."