T-Bird football program axed

MCC one of four community college football programs cut after 2018

Sydney Ritter
Kian Hagerman
MesaCC Legend

During lunchtime on Monday, Mesa Community College (MCC) President Sasan Poureetezadi informed its campus via an email, that the football program would end after the 2018 season, citing a study that showed the program was not viable for the district. The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) made the decision to dismantle the football programs at four community colleges, including MCC after an athletic task force forwarded their findings and recommendations.  The Maricopa Priorities Athletic Task Force found “that among all athletic programs, football was the lowest performing against key student success metrics including dropout rates, student-athlete GPAs, and course completion,” according to Poureetezadi’s communication. It further highlighted that “football also had the highest student loan default rate.”

The Task Force

The task force, created in mid-2016, was charged with looking into the academic and financial success of the football programs at Scottsdale, Glendale, Phoenix, and Mesa Community Colleges.  By early 2017, the Maricopa Priorities Athletic Task Force completed their report and submitted a list of suggestions. At the time of the announcement, Poureetezadi was in a closed-door meeting with college senior staff and was not available for comments. MCCCD Spokesperson Matthew Hasson said the football programs make up 20 percent of the total MCCCD athletic budget and is responsible for 52 percent of the related insurance cost. But he also included that the lack of capital investments impacted the program. “Since 2008 we haven’t received any capital funds from the state and we have pretty extensive capital investments we need to make to the district as a whole, not including upgrades to the football facilities that are much needed,” Hasson said. “We’ve had to be good stewards of tax dollars.”

Campus Reaction

Shock and disbelief were common reactions from players on the MCC football team when they learned the news about the football program ending. “It sounds kind of a joke to me, honestly,” Ralphlauren McCauley, a recruit for the T-Birds, said. “The program has been good for the past couple of years, and I don’t think anybody is going anywhere.”

Reactions to end of football program

Other players were grappling with the idea that the team they came to play for would be gone by next year. “Wow, that’s crazy. It’s gonna hurt a lot of kids,” Jarren Alexander, a recruit for the T-Bird running back position said. “People are preaching about education but then they do that.”  It’s worth noting the district assures that all other sports programs are not impacted at this time.

“We’ve really just had to really look at ourselves and make difficult decisions… we didn’t take this decision lightly that’s for sure,” spokesperson Hasson explained.
“We’ve taken quite a bit of time to come to the realization that we’re gonna have to do something moving forward to make sure that we have the money to invest in technology refreshes that impacts every student, facilities that impact every student, not just football but across the district,” Hasson added.

According to MCCCD, football players who are currently receiving a football-based scholarship will be honored through the Spring 2019 semester. The MesaCC Legend reached out to MCC President Sasan Poureetezadi, Athletic Director John Mulhern, and the other three college’s athletic departments for comments but no one made themselves available.

About Author

Sydney Ritter is the former Managing Editor at the Mesa Legend and a communications major at Arizona State University. She has been working for the Legend since 2016 as a reporter before taking over as News Editor and has spent her last two years as the Managing Editor.

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