What does Belmont Basketball’s future hold?
The next chapter of Belmont basketball’s troubled past is finally here.
Belmont athletic director and president Mark Bittman has announced the school will begin the process of moving its basketball operations to an online-only platform in 2018, which will allow the school to become more profitable and give the program more time to move forward.
The move was announced Tuesday, two months after the school fired longtime athletic director Jeff Cottone and his team, and a week after the athletic department released its 2016-17 financial report.
The school was forced to lay off about 50 coaches in April of this year.
The Belmont athletics department has been struggling for years with high tuition, an under-performing student-athlete development program and a lack of funding.
In the past year, the school has seen significant turnover in its basketball staff, including Cottones son, former Belmont guard Jahlil Okafor.
Bittman said the move is in the best interests of the school, its fans and its future.
“This move is the culmination of years of hard work, and I believe we are on the right path,” he said.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this transition, and we are all looking forward to the future.”
The move to an open-platform platform will allow Belmont to grow its revenues and attract more revenue-generating programs.
The move also will allow students to receive financial aid for their tuition.
The university will also be able to offer scholarships for current and incoming students.
Bettman said he believes the new platform will help the school better compete with other schools.
The team’s website currently lists the Belmont University football program as one of its most popular.
It is one of the top-ranked high schools in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
A website similar to BelmontSports.com is also currently being developed by the university, which could make it easier for fans to find and purchase tickets for games and other events.
The new platform also could offer a more streamlined way for coaches to keep track of their team’s progress.
The school is also preparing to launch a new sports-oriented website, Belmont Sports, to provide additional content and information to fans.
The change comes after the NCAA suspended Belmont last year for six years, citing an NCAA investigation that uncovered NCAA violations and a significant increase in improper pay-for-play payments made to former players.
The NCAA also investigated allegations that the school had used student-assistance programs to pay athletes, including former Belton player Dwayne Thomas.
Bertrand and other former Belcherons officials and officials from other schools attended a meeting Tuesday with the NCAA to discuss the investigation and how to address the issues.
The NCAA also launched an internal investigation into the school in November of this.
Bettsman told The Associated Press on Tuesday he is disappointed in the NCAA’s decision, but that it is “important that the program continue to grow.”
He added that he hopes that the investigation will be completed and that the suspension will be lifted in the coming weeks.
“We will be better prepared to go forward, but I do not believe that this is the right way forward for us,” he told the AP.
The decision to close the program was a shock to many Belmont fans.
It was announced in a press release issued Tuesday by the school’s athletic department, which is led by former Belmonte coach Greg VanValkenburg, who was dismissed in February after being accused of making inappropriate comments to a female player.
VanValkerenburg denied the allegations.
“The school of Belmontes basketball is proud to announce that it will move to a platform to make Belmont a more profitable school, and it will continue to hire coaches who can best serve the team,” Bittmen said in the statement.
“The Belmonters athletic program is the envy of the entire state of Vermont and we will continue our efforts to support our students and our alumni in the years to come.”