Whittier College announces discontinuation of football program

Officials said the programs being cut are "disproportionately more expensive to sustain than other sports that have thrived."

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Friday, November 25, 2022
Whittier College announces discontinuation of football program
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According to school officials, Whittier College's football program will be discontinued and the men's lacrosse and men's and women's golf programs will be discontinued at the end of their seasons.

WHITTIER, Calif. (KABC) -- Whittier College's football program along with several other athletic programs have been discontinued, officials announced Tuesday.

According to the announcement made by Whittier College Board of Trustees Chair Miguel Santana, the school's football program will be discontinued and the men's lacrosse and men's and women's golf programs will be discontinued at the end of their seasons.

"This was a difficult decision, backed by the Board of Trustees, that 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 student Health and Wellness, and the 18 NCAA sports which will remain an integral part of the Whittier experience," read a statement posted on Whittier College's website.

Officials said the programs being cut are "disproportionately more expensive to sustain than other sports that have thrived."

According to the statement, over the past 30 years, 14 California four-year colleges, including SCIAC rivals Occidental and CalTech, have dropped football from their intercollegiate rosters.

The college also cited "growing concern around contact sports - lacrosse and football-and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)."

"When it comes to the health of our student-athletes, we must take this concern seriously," read the statement.

Meanwhile, student athletes who spoke with Eyewitness News said they're disappointed by the decision.

Josh Peavey, a senior lacrosse player, said he's outraged.

"I feel mostly bad for the freshman and sophomores because they were told something and something else happened," he said.

Peavey claims Whittier College administrators brought in new recruits for the lacrosse team as if the program was in good standing.

He said since he's graduating, he'll be able to enjoy this last season, but feels horrible for incoming students.

Jeanne Warme, a parent of a freshman and a sophomore on the lacrosse team, said her son felt responsible because he encouraged his brother to join lacrosse.

According to the captain of Whittier College's men's lacross team Alex Coco, the school has been reviewing this process for years.

He claims the school was debating the possibility of cutting the sports teams since the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, a year the players lost due to the virus.

"They've been reviewing this process for three years. I find it a little hard to believe that it was within the last week where they decided that they were going to cut the men's lacrosse program after this season," Coco said.

Meanwhile, Whittier College officials made it clear during a recent Zoom meeting that the other sports would not be cut.

"There is a commitment to not discontinue other sports and actually reinvest in those sports," said Dr. Deanna Merino Contino, the vice president and dean of student life.

Meanwhile, this decision still doesn't make sense to former Whittier College lacrosse player John Sasaki. He said since the college lacrosse program has a history of success on the national stage, cutting the sport may do more harm than good.

"For the past 40 years, lacrosse has been an institution at Whittier college," he said. "It is something that has put Whittier College on the map, not just in Southern California, not just in the state, but across the country."

Whittier College officials said the school has created an advising plan that involves one-on-one meetings with each player to help them navigate the changes and help answer any questions.

To read Whittier College's full statement on the upcoming changes, visit their website.