The Central College softball team has traveled to Florida for spring training games for five years. However, when the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) canceled the spring season, the trip was off – but payments had already been made. Head Coach George Wares has been trying to recoup $14,700 out of the team’s budget that had been paid for a week-long hotel stay.
The expenses already paid don’t end there. The school paid a $900 entry fee for the games and each player paid $380 in airfare. Southwest Airlines has twice denied Wares’s requests for refunds to his players.
Much of the money that was used to pay for the trip came through the team’s fundraising efforts. They worked the admissions booth at home football games, hosted an auction and more.
Wares recognizes that this is a unique situation and understands the business aspect. When he learned that the games were canceled, an attempt was immediately made to cancel the airline tickets. It was explained to Southwest Airlines why the trip was not being made.
Many programs across the country are facing the same situation, and some suffered more severe financial damage than Central. The 2020 season was going to be an outstanding one for the Central softball team. Canceling the season was frustrating enough, but the loss of the money adds to it.
“For us, that’s a pretty good chunk of money,” Wares said.
Wares and his team continue to host Zoom meetings for an hour every week. His team is full of mature players who understand the crisis and the fact that it is bigger than them, but this is not how they wanted to end the year. As soon as clearance is given, the team wants to hold their annual end-of-season event, even if they have to wait until fall. Each season needs closure, Wares added.