As football ends at the JC level, are other sports on the chopping block?

Is an announcement imminent that MCCCD will be eliminating all athletics after football canceled in February.
By: 
DARRELL JACKSON, Glendale Star Editor

Little did people know that after Maricopa County Community College District announced in February it would be eliminating football at four schools, exactly how many dominoes would fall or that they were killing the sport in Arizona.
That noise you hear are the final football dominoes falling after Arizona Western and Eastern Arizona both recently announced their football programs have also now ended. Pima announced in the summer they would end their football program this season to end all junior college football opportunities in Arizona.
“Sports is a ‘carrot’ for our youth and I don’t know about everyone else, but I wasn’t thinking long-term as an 18- to 19-year-old and needed that carrot,” Glendale Community College defensive line coach Kelley Epley said after the Gauchos’ final game. “Sports is a fantastic avenue to higher education and sometimes we need the two or three more years in our life to mature and realize what is really important in our lives for the long term.”
Epley was quick to point to himself as a success story for junior college athletics.
“I now have a Bachelor’s of Science in Business from ASU, a Post-Bac in Education from Ottawa University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University,” Epley said. “Yet, I would be considered a ‘drop-out’ according to the one-year study the ‘Committee-Group’ did that the MCCCD Board keeps referencing for ending football.”
Citing financial concerns, the Maricopa County Community College District will eliminate its football programs following the 2018 season.
Phoenix College, Scottsdale Community College, Mesa Community College and Glendale Community College will all discontinue their football programs following the fall 2018 season with Pima announcing a few months later they would end their programs.
“Ongoing financial constraints, including leveling off of enrollment growth at a majority of the colleges, as well as the zeroing out of state support for MCCCD, has led to the need for the district to look at the prioritization of resources to ensure we continue to meet the changing educational needs of the community,” MCCCD said in a statement in February.
MCCCD says its four football programs comprise 20 percent of the district’s total athletic budget and more than 50 percent of related insurance costs. The district said no other sports will be impacted.
One of the biggest concerns from the district was about insurance costs for the district, which they say football has resulted in the largest number of claims due to the types of injuries that players sustain.
District provides insurance for all of its nearly 200,000 students with a premium of about $900,000 a year. There were about 400 junior college football players in Maricopa County during the 2018 season – approximately 2 percent of the entire student body, but officials with MCCCD claim that football accounted for what the district says is about 30 percent of the annual insurance costs.
But former GCC head football coach Joe Kersting said the district forgot one important aspect that has not been announced.
“No one has responded to why football is not affordable in Maricopa County,” Kersting recently tweeted. “Football players pay over $1.7 million per year in tuition alone, while four football programs cost less than $1 million (including scholarships and insurance).”
District officials said the state’s decision to eliminate funding to the community colleges several years ago played a role in the decision. They also looked at national trends, pointing to 530 member colleges in the National Junior College Athletic Association; only 65 offer football.
One issue that many have questions about has been MCCCD officials saying football makes up 20 percent of the district’s total athletic budget and is responsible for more than 50 percent of insurance costs. They also say that ongoing costs to maintain the football programs could top $20 million, including needed capital improvements and associated expenses.
“The entire report is a sham because kids don’t get full rides. A couple do because of fundraising efforts programs earn themselves, but the school might cover 80 fee waivers a semester during any given year. It costs $1,300 a semester and fee waivers are only $325,” Epley said. “The rest, including the very few full rides granted, are covered by the student, financial aid or the fundraising funds each program collects themselves. Colleges aren’t losing money, they are making money if you add in the tuition and how could tuition not be included? That is just an insult to the public. The entire report was an insult to common sense.”
He added that stats from the original report to end football were skewered in favor of ending the sport.
“The entire report was an insult to common sense, as they counted students that don’t earn a certificate of completion in some trade program or an associate’s degree as a failed student,” Epley said. “Our kids all transfer to universities with hours of completion to go towards a bachelor’s degree, not necessarily AA completions. Under their report, I am a failed student, according to the study.”
As the season ends, players have been scrambling to get college offers but most may be left out.
“Some will still go to college, but even those kids won’t see the process all the way through. At least with junior college football, they would have had to get through almost half their college requirements and even if they don’t play anywhere else after,” Epley said. “With junior college football, most would have been halfway to a degree, so it’s a lot easier to finish something when you’re already halfway through it and that’s what happened to me in my collegiate career.”
But, according to former GCC football coach Joe Kersting, the district forgot to mention that other entities use the stadiums and many wondered why football should be held responsible for capital improvement costs.
“There are many other entities that use the stadiums. Why should the capital expense for repairing stadiums be only the responsibility of football?” Kersting questioned.
Numerous calls to MCCCD officials were not returnedm, which made me wonder, what are they hiding?
Having talked to numerous high-ranking officials at MCCCD, they have said they believe the district is going to eliminate all sports in the not too distant future.
So it looks like MCCCD is putting more dominoes up to knock down as numerous people have said that come March 2019, an announcement is expected that MCCCD is going to eliminate ALL sports at the community college level in the district.
When asked what the end of junior college football in Arizona means, Epley summed it up.
“The opportunities for our state’s high school football players to extend their athletic careers, develop intellectually, physically and maturity-wise and experience even higher aspirations both academically and athletically,” Epley said. “I can say playing at Glendale Community College back in 1981-82 absolutely changed my life for the better and can attribute my quality of life personally and professionally to my playing and coaching days at GCC.”
Having covered the MCCCD conflicting reports since the announcement in February, I have been expecting the ultimate announcement that sports will end at the junior college level, and it may be closer than even I expect.
“All they have said in the past nine months is that the other sports are safe,” Epley said. “I am hearing from sources on multiple campuses that an email will go out next February or March saying that all sports in the MCCCD district are being eliminated. Why wouldn’t they lie about this after they have been lying all along anyway?  They originally said that the elimination football would be revisited after the 2018 season and then they eliminated it two months later.”
Having been accused myself by MCCCD Communications director Matt Hasson claimed that I misquoted him in a previous article and that I had actually quoted someone else, mistakenly attributed the quote to Hasson. When proof came out that I was correct on television, and I actually still have the recording of the quote, I have yet to receive an apology from anyone at MCCCD, which I was never seeking.
“How does Hasson still have his job as the Director of Media Relations for the MCCCD after last year disparaging football players,” Epley said. “He vehemently denied this and stated ‘I would never say something like that,’ then a video shown on the television that shows him saying exactly what you quoted him saying.  He is either a liar (my pick) or not qualified to hold the position he currently holds.  Bottom line is how can a Director of Media Relations for the largest Community College District in America do his job if he can’t remember what he says to the Media?”
How far will the lies continue to all athletes at the community college level? What can they do to stop the madness? Maybe its time for someone to take a stand and tell the board, enough is enough because having seen the way they have twisted everything, it is finally time for an independent entity to get to the truth.

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