Insufficient funding has left the Wollongong Hawks without a feeder team in the 2015 Waratah Basketball League season.
The Illawarra Basketball Association will not field an Illawarra Hawks side in next year’s WBL competition, while the Illawarra Kittyhawks have also effectively folded.
Remarkably, the Kittyhawks have disappeared barely a year after winning the 2013 WBL women’s title. The men’s program has collapsed three years after the Hawks claimed the 2011 crown.
IBA executive officer Kevin Marsh said the association did not have the money to be the sole supporter of senior men’s and women’s teams.
‘‘It’s disappointing. It’s a lack of sponsorship more than anything else,’’ Marsh said.
‘‘It’s quite a financial commitment and we struggle with the funding of the program. The expense for Basketball Illawarra is something we just can’t take on by ourselves. We need that outside sponsorship.
‘‘Sponsors are what drives it. If there’s no sponsor, we’re basically asking the players to be levied, like we do with parents in the juniors.’’
The Illawarra Hawks were meant to provide a pathway to the Wollongong Hawks, with an emphasis on the development of local juniors.
But it seems those plans have been discarded by Wollongong Hawks management.
As for the Kittyhawks, they were always going to have difficulty assembling an experienced team next season after the departure of more than half of their 2014 roster.
‘‘Three girls are playing college basketball in the States, a couple said they weren’t playing next season and a couple of girls relocated through work,’’ Marsh said.
The IBA will continue to field men’s and women’s teams in NSW Youth League, while an Illawarra men’s side will also compete in NSW First Division.
The women’s youth team are hoping to retain Collegians as its main financial backer, but the men’s teams are without sponsorship.
‘‘We still have those feeders there which we’ll have to manage and we’re looking for that financial support to run the program,’’ Marsh said.
‘‘I could find 10 guys to play, but without that financial support there’s the chance to lose thousands of dollars we don’t have.’’
Wollongong Hawks development squad player Luke Jamieson has lined up with the Illawarra team for the past five years. The 204cm forward is reportedly considering playing with the Newcastle Hunters in 2015 if the club can find him a job in the area.