The Bethel College men’s and women’s soccer games scheduled for Aug. 31 at home against Bacone College have been canceled and will not be made up.
No reason was given in the Bethel release for the cancelation, but the Bacone's fate has been uncertain this spring and summer.
Much of the school’s faculty and staff were laid off at the end of the 2017-18 school year. There were reports that the school was closing, but the president of the college, Dr. Ferlin Clark, said those reports were just rumors.
Last spring, the school reported debts of $2.5 million. It sold about $4 million worth of property in the summer — including a fast food restaurant, a shopping center and a hotel and conference center.
The school opened Aug. 15 with an enrollment of 230 students. According to press reports the school expects to enroll about 400 by the end of the month. The school had an enrollment of about 700 last school year.
The school did cut four athletic programs — football, rodeo, wrestling and cheerleading. The school reportedly kept softball, baseball, volleyball, track, cross country, basketball and soccer contingent on those programs having enough athletes and coaches to compete.
No roster, schedule or coaches were listed for any of the teams on the Bacone athletic Web site. The Bacone men’s soccer team was 9-8-1 last season, 5-3-1 in the Sooner Athletic Conference. The women were 3-15, 1-9 in the SAC. Bethel beat the women 4-2 last year, while the Bethel men lost 2-1.
Bacone is a predominantly Native American college in Muskogee, Okla., and is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA. The college was founded as The Indian University in 1880 in Indian Territory (Oklahoma would not become a state until 1907). It is the oldest operating college in Oklahoma.
Bacone is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Sooner Athletic Conference. Three SAC schools have closed since 1998 — Phillips University in Enid, Okla. (1998), Northwood University in Cedar Hill, Texas (2014), and St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Okla. (2017).
St. Gregory’s was an occasional opponent for Bethel.
According to Bethel sports information director Joshua Booth, Bethel will not be awarded forfeit wins.
The Bethel men and women open the season Saturday at home against SAC member Mid-America Christian. Because of the cancelation, the women will then be off until Sept. 2 at home against Manhattan Christian. The men host John Brown Aug. 28 and Central Christian Sept. 4.