News Articles

EDUCATION DIGEST: Spurgeon College to launch basketball program; Univ. of Mobile names Burnett as interim president

Midwestern Seminary’s Spurgeon College to launch basketball program

KANSAS CITY (BP) — Beginning in the fall, Spurgeon College will launch a basketball program as its first step into intercollegiate sports.

With the Mathena Student Center now completed, the undergraduate arm of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., has hired a head coach, Philip Parker, for the team to be known as the Knights.

At present, Spurgeon College has scheduled 11 games, beginning in mid-November. Parker said he hopes to have 15-20 games for the inaugural season.

In April, Midwestern’s trustees received plans to field sports teams at Spurgeon College and on May 13 the National Christian College Athletics Association officially accepted the college as a member.

“Many factors have come together to make college sports a possibility,” MBTS President Jason Allen said, “and we count it as another reminder of God’s kind providence and blessing upon our institution.”

Allen voiced gratitude to the NCCAA “for their partnership in bringing intercollegiate athletics to Spurgeon College.”

“We appreciate the focus of their mission, which is the promotion and enhancement of intercollegiate athletic competition with a Christian perspective,” Allen said. “This falls fully in line with what we hope to accomplish through sports programs at Spurgeon College — to be highly competitive and win championships but to do so in a manner that glorifies God and develops young people for a future of Christian ministry and toward expanding and strengthening Christ’s Kingdom.”

According to the organization’s website, the NCCAA is an association of Christ-centered collegiate institutions whose mission is to use athletic competition as an integral component of education, evangelism and encouragement. The NCCAA serves its members by setting association standards, developing communication resources, providing regional/national competition, and partnering in outreach to the collegiate communities and the world. They also are committed to equipping student-athletes and coaches to make a positive impact for Christ.

Parker comes to Spurgeon College after a five-year stint at Calvary University in Kansas City, where he started as a student assistant and worked his way to head assistant coach. He helped lead the rebuilding squad from a 1-20 record to a near-.500 record -– including a second-place finish in the Midwest Christian College Conference regular season during the 2018-2019 season.

“Even before being considered for this position,” Parker said of Spurgeon College, “I was well aware of the growth and progression of the school, and to now be a part of it is genuinely a dream come true.”

Parker said he’s encouraged by the excitement and energy about the program around campus and that it will provide an enhanced experience for students, faculty and staff.

Allen said Parker embodies what Spurgeon College was looking for in a head coach. “After conducting a thorough search for the right man for this position, it was clear that Coach Parker possessed all the attributes we desired in leading the team. He is a young man with great energy, knowledge of the game, and leadership abilities but, more importantly, he desires to lead a group of young men to become passionate and effective followers of Christ. He sees basketball as an environment that’s truly conducive for discipleship.”

During its initial campaign, the team will play what amounts to a junior varsity schedule. Even though there will be a varsity roster, a majority of the team’s competition will be local NAIA JV squads so that the Knights can gain experience, work on improving logistics on and off the court, and prepare for the second year when they will join the NCCAA in Division II.

Parker said he’s currently purchasing equipment, preparing the gym to be game-ready and working on obtaining an apparel contract. He also has been spending time formulating the values and framework for the team so that the players and assistants will know why they do what they do and how they’re to do it.

From a recruiting perspective, Parker said he’s in the process of researching Christian high schools and calling coaches. In June, he will be traveling extensively conducting home visits and meeting with coaches.

“We will be announcing soon the signing of two student athletes who have committed to the program,” Parker said. “There are also several recruits visiting campus in the coming weeks and months. Through talking with high school coaches, we also have several sophomores and juniors that we will be keeping our eyes on.”

In addition to men’s basketball at Spurgeon College, there is the potential to add teams in other sports.

“Our hope and intention for the future is to add a ladies’ team next,” said Sam Bierig, dean of Spurgeon College. “The direction this could go would potentially be toward volleyball, basketball or even cross country. Additionally, as we add sports teams, we would like to explore the potential for men’s soccer. Regardless of which direction these decisions take us into the future, the start-up of men’s basketball portends exciting things to come for our campus community.”

To learn more about the Spurgeon College Knights men’s basketball team, visit www.spurgeoncollege.com/athletics or contact Coach Parker at [email protected].


University of Mobile names Burnett as interim president

MOBILE, Ala. (BP) — Trustees of the University of Mobile have named history professor and executive dean Lonnie Burnett as interim president of his alma mater.

Trustee chairman David Conner of the Baptist-affiliated university said Burnett was the unanimous choice as the board’s search committee worked with consulting firm JobfitMatters.

“Lonnie Burnett has invested his life in this university, and he is passionate about its mission. He was the best candidate, having the academic credentials and the leadership experience that we were seeking. His selection will allow the university to continue its forward momentum without a transition period,” Conner said in an announcement after a trustee meeting May 10.

The interim appointment is effective May 28 and will continue for a term of 16 months, Conner said. President Tim Smith, who led the university for nearly three years, resigned Feb. 25 for personal reasons.

Burnett said he looks forward to “leading such a dedicated faculty and staff in accomplishing our mission as we educate and mentor our students.”

Currently, Burnett serves as professor of history and executive dean of the college of arts and sciences. He has held a variety of administrative positions, including assistant vice president of academic affairs for planning and evaluation.

Burnett has published two books with the University of Alabama Press, “Henry Hotze: Confederate Propagandist” and “The Pen Makes a Good Sword: John Forsyth of the Mobile Register.”

He has served in leadership positions or has been a member of professional organizations including the Alabama Historical Association, Society of Civil War Historians and Southern Historical Association. He serves as managing editor for The Alabama Review, a quarterly journal of Alabama history published by the Alabama Historical Association in cooperation with the University of Mobile.

Burnett graduated in 1979 with a bachelor of arts from the University of Mobile, then Mobile College. His wife Lynne graduated from UM in 1996, and daughter Lauren Burnett Wetzel graduated in 2009. He holds a master of arts degree from the University of South Alabama and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi.

He taught U.S. history at the high school and middle school levels in the Mobile County Public School System from 1980 to 2004. He taught several years as an adjunct history instructor at UM, retired from the public school system and focused on his second career as a college professor and author.

    About the Author

  • Staff