Four students sue Savannah State for admittance

Four students who have accused Savannah State University of pulling their football scholarships because they are white are now suing the school’s president and interim athletic director for admittance.

Jacob Farmer, Andrew Cannon, Rico Arellano and Forrest Hill filed suit Tuesday demanding that Savannah State allow them to attend on full scholarships.

The 19-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, accuses Savannah State, a historically black university, of acting “unlawfully, specifically with regard to the decision to deny them admission and athletic scholarships on account of their race, white.”

The lawsuit also states the students have “suffered actual monetary loss as well as emotional and mental anguish caused by (Savannah State’s) unlawful racial discrimination.”

The four students did not immediately return phone calls. Hill is attending Auburn University, according to his Facebook page.

Joe Steffen, the school's lawyer, said none of the students were offered formal scholarships from the university.

"We don't have formal paperwork on any one of them," Steffen told the AJC Wednesday.

Steffen also said the university "in no way shape or form discriminates" on the base of race or any other factor.

"It is very much part of our policy to increase the racial diversity of this university. We formally commit ourselves to that," he told the AJC.

The allegations come two months after Savannah State's former football coach, Robert Wells, filed suit against the school, saying he was forced to resign because his fiancee is black.

Wells, who is white, resigned Jan. 28, one month after he had accepted a one-year contract extension. In his complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta in May, Wells also claims the school is trying to hurt his reputation as a football coach by saying he violated recruiting rules.

According to the lawsuit filed by the four students, they were scheduled to visit the university on Jan. 30 and 31 “to sign their letters of intent to enroll at and play football for SSU.”

The students’ scholarships were pulled after Wells' departure, the lawsuit states.

The complaint states that university officials "have asserted that they withdrew the scholarships offered to (the students) because they are not residents of the state of Georgia."

Two of the students – Farmer and Cannon – are from Florida. Arellano is a student in North Carolina, the lawsuit states.

Hill is a graduating senior at Morrow High School and lives in Jonesboro, the lawsuit states.