A Maricopa County Community Colleges’ task force has recommended that four of its schools cut their football programs. Mesa Community College, Scottsdale Community College, Glendale Community College, and Phoenix College were among the schools affected.
Former Chancellor Rufus Glasper established the Maricopa Priorities Athletic Task Force five years ago. The report focused on three areas: student academic success, program compliance, and resource utilization.
The task force included a list of recommendations related to the districts’ 10 sports and 16 teams.
The recommendations were provided to current Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick in early May and are currently under review. The Mesa Thunderbirds football program has been successful since its formation in the late 1960s. Since then the Thunderbirds have gone on to make over 15 top three appearances. Two of those have come in the last five years.
Last year the Thunderbirds finished second in the conference after a hard-fought double overtime win in the Valley of the Sun bowl to close out the season. The Thunderbirds finished with a record of 9-2 and had their best season since 2007. If the football programs are cut because of the report a traditional recruitment avenue for four year colleges would be lost.
The Thunderbird football program has sent over 25 players to the NFL that have combined for over 65 seasons. The recommendation to cut football programs caused concern in the community among student athletes, coaches, staff, and students. Matthew Hasson, a MCCCD official said, “It is important to remember, at this time, this is only a recommendation, and ask for your patience and understanding as the recommendation is studied and its impact reviewed.”
Mesa Community College athletics’ officials could not comment but a press release from the district said, “Mesa Community College…are operating their respective football programs in a “business as usual” manner.”