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Whittier College, which has played college football for 115 years, finally told its players Tuesday it was eliminating its football program a day after assistant coaches received termination letters and shared news with the football team about the intent. from school to do it.
In a lengthy statement and explanation by Board of Trustees Chairman Miguel Santana and school president Linda Oubre, Whittier College made official the Tuesday night on your school’s website.
Whittier is not only eliminating its football program, but also the men’s and women’s golf teams and men’s lacrosse.
“After a three-year review process and very careful deliberation, Whittier College announces the discontinuation of Poet football,” Whittier posted on its website. “This was a difficult decision, supported by the Board of Trustees, which aims to direct investment to the things that make Whittier College exceptional: our academic programs, our high-touch student experience, including an expanded effort to support health and student wellness, and the 18 NCAA sports that will continue to be an integral part of the Whittier experience.”
Whittier football players had a feeling the news would come after the coaches shared their firing letters Monday, and they weren’t happy to be left in limbo until Tuesday night to make it official.
Whittier football player DJ Williams, a freshman linebacker who played high school football in San Dimas, said the news was emotional for everyone.
“There were a lot of tears at the meeting,” Williams said. “People were scared, confused and uncertain about our future. I am disappointed and sad.”
During the meeting, Williams said school officials cited head injury concerns as part of the reason they ended his program.
“They cut the show due to a head injury and concussion,” Williams said. “Which is a poor excuse.”
The school cited head injuries as a concern.
“In addition, there is growing concern around contact sports (lacrosse and soccer) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease found in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma,” it reads. in the statement. “When it comes to the health of our student-athletes, we must take this concern seriously.”
Zach Fernandes, a freshman offensive lineman at Gregori High School in Modesto, hoped the rumors weren’t true.
“I am devastated, I feel cheated,” Fernandes said. “I sacrificed everything to play the sport I love, and it was taken away from me. I have no idea what I’m going to do now. I don’t know if I’ll ever play a football down again.”
Whittier College quarterback Adam Pinard, a freshman who attended high school at Santa Rosa Academy in Menifee, said before Tuesday’s announcement that he “wasn’t sure how it could have been handled worse.”
Pinard had more to say after the announcement.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate and it puts a lot of players in a tough spot at the end of the semester, but I can’t say I didn’t see it coming,” Pinard said. “I just hope the coaches and my teammates find a school that values their athletic programs, because I love all those guys. It really has been a special bond that we have created since I arrived here in August, and that is something that cannot be measured by wins and losses.
Whittier College, which plays at the NCAA Division III level and has won 26 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles, most recently in 2007, joins Occidental College and Azusa Pacific as small local colleges in the South from California that finished their football programs in recent years. . Occidental College and Azusa Pacific ended their programs in 2020.
Schools have had to deal with declining revenue. There are also a limited number of small colleges in Southern California that still have soccer programs, and that makes it hard to find games and increases travel costs.
“Based on data from the Aspen Institute and the National Federation of State High School Associations, soccer is on the decline in the United States,” Whittier shared on his website to help explain his decision. “From 2008-09 to 2018-19, the total number of youth ages 6-18 playing football decreased by more than 620,000 participants, from approximately 2.5 million to less than 1.9 million. Over the same decade, attendance at high-profile college games dropped nearly 10 percent.”
With Whittier canceling its program, there are only six universities in California left to compete in Division III. There are three local schools, Pomona-Pitzer, Claremont-Mudd, and the University of La Verne, that play Division III football.
Whittier played his final game of the season on Saturday, November 12 against the Redlands and lost 58-14, finishing the season 0-8.
Whittier, who began playing football in 1907, is famous for having former President Richard Nixon play there as a tackle for the 1932 team, and also for having NFL Hall of Fame coach George Allen at the helm. of the Poets from 1951 to 1956. Allen left Whittier to become an assistant coach for the Rams in 1957, and after jumping as an assistant in the NFL, he was named head coach of the Rams in 1963.
Whittier’s best football streak came from 1957-1964, when he won eight straight conference titles under Allen and two other head coaches, Don Coryell (1957-59) and John Godfrey (1960-79).
For the past decade, it has struggled to field winning teams. He hasn’t won in five of his last seven seasons.