"We've tried to do a lot of things to foster community, and it's sad that athletics is not available," Steinberg says. "But it's all about choices and priorities. This was a difficult decision, but I don't think there's any doubt that it was the right choice."
On a recent Friday an empty black hearse was parked outside the gym at Morris Brown. It's hard not to think of it as a metaphor for an athletic program in financial and competitive distress, a prod for an uncomfortable but necessary question: Is Division I's newest member dead on arrival?
Dolores Cross, Morris Brown's third president in six years, hopes not. "I do worry about the cost of going to Division I," she says. "If it got to the point where I thought it was costing too much, I would pull the plug."
Then again, Cross can see the good things: Morris Brown's thriving band, 300 strong; the alumni, proud and boisterous, who flock to the school's Division I-AA football games; and the look on the face of Hicks, the Wolverines' 6'5" forward, when he talks about possibly knocking off Boston College this season and "shocking the world."
Morris Brown was the first historically black college in Georgia founded solely by African-Americans, Cross points out. "We have a college that seems to have survived despite the odds," she says. "Once we get to the second or third year of Division I, we'll know whether it's catching on. We're giving this a chance."