Colleges in Jacksonville are welcoming in an infusion of new students from a shuttered Springfield educational institution this semester.
It’s been almost a year since Benedictine University announced it was ending its traditional undergraduate program, sending students scrambling to find a new school to call home.
MacMurray College and Illinois College were among many schools in the area that offered incentives to lure the students their way, and it has worked. In a press release this week, MacMurray announced 12 baseball players from Benedictine would start class this upcoming week.
Baseball coach and athletic director Justin Fuhler estimates there are a total of 20 to 25 students at MacMurray who came from Benedictine, including 18 athletes.
“One of the big things that helped us, at least with the baseball program, is I coached at Benedictine before I came here to MacMurray, so I knew a lot of these kids and I was familiar with their coach, so I think that’s one thing that really helped was just that familiarity,” says Fuhler.
“Also, the closeness of it. A lot of these kids are Springfield-area kids, and they like playing in their hometown, they like playing where their families can come watch them play, and granted, we’re not in Springfield, but we’re only 30 miles away.”
Fuhler says there were two major parts of MacMurray’s pitch to the displaced students- the school assured them they’d accept all of their credits, and Mac offered a financial package that allowed the students to continue paying the same amount of tuition they paid at Ben U.
“I can’t imagine going through that shock of just learning your school’s shutting down, and especially for the athletes, who, some of them had one year left, or even the kids who get two or three years left of eligibility, just that shock of knowing that our school’s done,” he says.
“I’m just really proud of MacMurray College as a whole for just doing the right thing and helping these kids out in this transition.”
You can hear more from Fuhler about what the new Benedictine students bring to the table in terms of athletics by clicking on the media player below.
A phone call to officials at Illinois College to inquire about Benedictine students there went unanswered this week.