AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – Controversy bubbling to the surface on the campus of Auburn University is making national headlines after the school’s Bass Fishing Club was suspended as a club sport for a year for violating AU’s COVID-19 policy regarding travel and events.
“Let them fish” is the resounding response not only to the fishing community but many Auburn alum who are urging AU to reconsider the suspension. According to AU Alum and former Bass Fishing Club president Armando Ortiz Junior, Auburn University’s Bass Fishing Club has made a name for itself in the outdoor world. Ortiz says the Club attracts anglers from all over the globe and welcomes anyone who wants to wet a hook.
“Auburn is one of the names that is known. What is unique about Auburn is we are not a scholarship school; we can’t provide scholarship students coming in, it’s just a program that signs the kids up, pays a fee, and we do a little fish-off in the fall to see who is on the travel team. Still, everybody can fish regardless,” said Ortiz.
Campus Recreation and Competitive Sports suspended the team until the end of the year.
The March 24 memo references the Club’s repeated violations of Auburn University’s COVID-19 policy regarding travel and events. The memo was sent to the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club from Keegan Ashbee, Assistant Director of Campus Recreation Competitive Sports.
You can read the entire memo below:
This memo is to inform you that effective immediately, the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club has been suspended as a club sports team and student organization until December 31, 2021.
The decision is in response to the Club’s repeated violations of Auburn University’s COVID-19 policy regarding travel and events. These violations occurred in July 2020, February 2021, and March 2021.
During this period of suspension, no member of the Club can travel, recruit for, compete, or represent the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club in any capacity. This includes wearing Auburn University Bass Fishing Club uniforms or representing the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club on any social media platforms, including but not limited to YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, or Instagram.
The governing bodies of your sport and fellow SEC schools will be notified of this suspension and that the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club is not eligible for competition during this time frame. Anyone disregarding this notice will be referred to the Auburn University Student Conduct Office on an individual basis. Club members who ignore this suspension could also jeopardize the length of the Club’s suspension.
All Auburn University Bass Fishing Club officers are hereby removed from their positions. The Club should provide Campus Recreation with a contact person and their contact information By April 1, 2021. Beginning Fall September 2021, Campus Recreation will communicate with this person to begin the process of leadership training for potential club membership for Spring Semester 2022.
Please know that we are extremely disappointed in the actions of the Club and we hope this will e an educational and learning opportunity for all. This decision was vetted and endorsed by everyone copied on this memo.
“I love sports. I love football, baseball, basketball. If those sports are okay to go full contact 11 on 11 with guys sweating on each other, what is the difference between two guys being on a boat, outside, and being able to fish,” asked Ortiz.
Ortiz is uring Auburn University to overturn the ruling, and he’s not alone. A change.org petition has garnered nine thousand signatures and growing, urging AU to overturn the suspension. Pro-Angler’s like Steve Kennedy are also speaking out. Kennedy posted a picture of him wearing an AU cap with the caption, “For the first time in my life, I’m embarrassed to wear this hat.”
“They were already stripped of their season last year because of COVID-19, and it hurts as an Alumni just to see those guys won’t get an opportunity to fish when they should be fishing,” said Ortiz.
News 3 understands an appeals process is underway, and attorneys are involved. News reached out to AU several times on Monday, looking for an update and more details regarding the violations; so far, we have not heard back. We will keep you updated.