On March 24, President Dick Celeste, Faculty Athletics Representative Ralph Bertrand, and Director of Athletics Ken Ralph announced that three varsity sports — football, water polo, and softball — would be discontinued. I would like to offer a perspective — as a CC alumnus, trustee, Athletics Board member, and one who was involved in this process from the outset — as to why this decision was made.
Last December, the Board of Trustees asked President Celeste to initiate a process to reduce the college’s budget by $8-12 million for the coming academic year. This decision was necessitated by a decline in the market value of our endowment resulting in a reduction in the annual endowment payout to CC’s operating budget for the next three years as required in our endowment payout guidelines.
Under Ken Ralph’s leadership over the past 18 months, CC’s athletics department began cutting expenses to offset rising travel and operating costs caused by skyrocketing fuel prices and the high travel expenses inherent in being the only Division III college in the Mountain Time Zone. The size of travel squads and the number of games played have been reduced over the past 18 months to mitigate the built-in higher cost structure caused by our location.
When the $8-12 million budget reduction was announced, all areas of the college were asked to make cuts, including athletics. Ken Ralph, his senior staff, and the Athletics Board evaluated many options and all of our athletics programs. The decision to cut these three programs was made in order to ensure that the athletics department lived within its new budget and that the remaining 17 sports programs had the necessary resources to remain strong and provide our student athletes with a positive experience.
Football at CC started in 1885 and has played an important role in the college’s history and campus life. The decision to discontinue it, along with water polo and softball, was very difficult. CC has not discontinued a sport in 15 years. CC football, however, has long faced challenges beyond the financial realm. Maintaining appropriate roster sizes has been a concern for many years. Even with the known challenges, the college has remained committed to sponsoring a football program until the economic realities changed over the past months. As evidence of the significant challenges, note that CC football has had one winning season in the past 32 years. CC will save approximately $450,000 per year by eliminating our football program.
As one of the participants in this decision-making process, I can personally attest to how difficult and emotionally draining it has been for all involved. However, I am convinced it is the right decision in light of the economic times that the college and rest of the world are experiencing.
Ken Ralph and his staff, along with President Celeste and the Board of Trustees, remain absolutely committed to offering varsity, club, and intramural athletics at Colorado College and to providing our student athletes a positive experience. No other cuts in athletics are being contemplated at this time and none are expected. Tough times require tough decisions so that Colorado College can continue to offer our students an excellent academic and student life experience.
|Significant Moments in Football, Softball, and Water Polo|
|Christmas Day, 1882 – CC football team defeats Sigafus Hose Co., 10-8, in its first game ever against an outside opponent||1928 – Earl “Dutch” Clark becomes the first of 16 Tiger gridders to earn All-America honors after rushing for 1,349 yards and scoring 105 points|
|1975 – Colorado College Football earns an NCAA Division III playoff bid under legendary and Hall of Fame head coach Jerry Carle||March 14, 1996 – CC softball team records its first-ever victory by defeating Biola University, 7-5, in Southern California|
|April 3, 2004 – After making its debut as a varsity program a month earlier, CC water polo claims its first victory by beating the University of Arizona, 13-4, in Boulder, Colo.||2006 – Softball Tigers finish with a school-record 16 victories overall en route to a 15-13 record against Division III opponents|
|2008 – Tournament host Colorado College finishes second in Midwest Regional water polo competition and earns an at-large bid to the National Championships|