In an effort to reorganize its athletics department and
weather the ongoing economic crisis, Colorado College will discontinue three
NCAA Division III sports football, softball and water polo effective at
the end of the current academic year.
The decision, announced by President Richard F. Celeste and Director of
Athletics Ken Ralph on Tuesday, comes in response to a mandate from CC¹s
Board of Trustees to reduce spending by $8 million to $12 million during the
next fiscal year.
³We went through dozens of budget scenarios before coming to the realization
that we could no longer support 20 varsity sports,² said Ralph, who has
served as AD since July 2007. ³Nobody at the school wanted this outcome and
many people worked diligently to find a better alternative. In the end it
was clear that this move was necessary to ensure the future health of the
Based on 2008-09 rosters, the cuts involve 54 male and 22 female team
members, as well as four full-time and a dozen part-time staff positions.
³My concern is for the students-athletes and their coaches affected by this
change,² Celeste said. ³We will do all we can to support them. In the long
term, our goal is to ensure that we provide the resources to sustain and
strengthen our remaining sports.
³If we are going to do something, we want to do it right.²
All three sports being discontinued compete at the NCAA Division III level.
Team members do not receive athletic scholarships. The college will continue
to offer its 17 other varsity programs, including Division I women¹s soccer
and men¹s ice hockey.
The announced move will result in more than a 10-percent cut in athletic
expenditures during the 2009-10 academic year. The savings from football
alone will exceed $450,000.
³I am deeply troubled that these moves became necessary,² Ralph said. ³The
elimination of programs is always an item of last resort and, unfortunately,
due to the economy, we reached that point.²
CC is the only Division III school in the Mountain Time Zone. The majority
of its varsity teams now compete in the Southern Collegiate Athletic
Conference, whose members are spread throughout the southern United States.
The closest opponent is Austin College in Sherman, Texas, more than 600
miles from Colorado Springs.
³The expense of flying all of our teams around the country to compete has
left us unable to meet our budget numbers,² said Ralph. ³We will put our
resources to work to strengthen the remaining 17 programs.²
While softball and water polo are relatively new at the college, the
tradition of Tiger Football has spanned parts of three centuries. Its
storied history dates back to 1882, when the first game was played against a
group of local firemen, and includes a 54-year association (1909-1963) with
the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, during which the team reigned as
league champion or co-champion seven times.
However, after going 7-1-1 in 1976, and earning an NCAA Division III playoff
bid a year earlier under legendary head coach Jerry Carle, the program has
finished with a winning record only four times and only once (1993) in the
last 32 seasons. By the end of 2008, its second campaign as a member of the
SCAC, Colorado College was able to dress fewer than 40 healthy players a
plight that had become all too typical in recent years.
Softball, initiated as a varsity sport in 1996 and also a member of the
SCAC, has 11 members on its 2009 roster. Water polo, which is in its sixth
season at Colorado College, also has 11 players and was able to schedule
just one home game this spring.
³At Colorado College, we aim for excellence in all we do for students in
the classroom, in sports, in service and in study abroad,² said Celeste.
³When we fall short, we must take steps to rectify the situation. These
three sports have been under-resourced for years, which means that our
student-athletes do not enjoy the quality of experience we expect to
provide. These turbulent economic times require painful decisions, and we
have to make such decisions in the context of sustaining excellence.²
The Division I women¹s soccer and hockey programs, which compete in
Conference USA and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, respectively,
have found ways to reduce spending in 2009-10. Due to significant
sponsorship help, however, both teams will have more resources at their
disposal despite expending fewer overall dollars.