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Facing the prospect of losing its campus, Bacone College got a temporary reprieve last week when an auction scheduled for Dec. 15 to sell off its land and facilities was postponed.

The auction came about as the result of a lawsuit after Bacone failed to pay a contractor more than $1 million for work performed on the college’s heating and cooling systems. The court system determined that the college owed the contractor, Midgley-Huber Energy Concepts, $1.6 million, including attorneys’ fees.

The lawsuit was one of several brought against the struggling college in Muskogee, Okla., which has seen its enrollment collapse from more than 900 students in fall 2017 to around 100 currently. Various other vendors have also sued Bacone College for allegedly not paying its bills. Amid its financial woes, the college recently laid off more than 40 of its 60 employees.

MHEC officials recently told local media that the company intended to bid on the campus at auction. However, court records show that the auction was recalled at the request of MHEC. An attorney for the Utah-based company did not respond to a request for comment from Inside Higher Ed.

Bacone, which serves a high number of Native American students and has deep historical ties to Indigenous communities, has since 2019 sought recognition as a tribal college from the Bureau of Indian Education but has been unsuccessful in those efforts.

College officials have indicated that Bacone may shift courses online if its campus is sold.