Pima Community College to cut football, likely other sports, next season

Pima Community College to cut football, likely other sports, next season
(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Aztecs will field a football team for one more season.

Pima Community College announced during a governing board meeting Wednesday, June 13 it will be cutting football and possibly other sports following the 2018 season.

The other sports being looked at for cuts are golf and tennis.

All sports will remain in place though for the 2018-19 season.

Athletic Director Edgar Soto shared his budget reduction and reorganization plan in front of the Pima Community College board.

Soto said the plan was being discussed "for a while" with his athletics staff and coaches but he only landed on the difficult recommendation to cut football in 2019-20 in the last couple weeks.

RELATED: Soto praises Monaco amidst call to end the Aztec football program

"I apologize that it turned out this way. But we're having to make some tough decisions. I hope this doesn't keep them from continuing college. There are other places to play and other opportunities. We're going to continue this year, at least. We want them to continue their education and explore other opportunities and we'll help with that."

The final decision was left up to Chancellor Lee Lambert, who accepted the budget adjustments.

The proverbial first shoe dropped in February, when the Maricopa Community College District announced it would be cutting football after the 2018 season. It forced Pima's administration to take a hard look at its own athletic program.

The discussion has revolved around more than just football, which accounts for 16 percent of the athletic department's budget, according to the FY18 Adopted Fee Budget.

Soto said the football program can no longer be supported by the college's general fund.

Currently, Soto explained he must support as many programs as possible in his proposed $1.9 million FY19 budget. The previous FY18 budget was roughly $2.6 million based on the current Pima Community College enrollment.

He said private donations could help the cause.

"If somebody comes with a substantial amount of money to maintain a program, of course we're going to explore that and look into that," Soto stated.

While Maricopa's decision may have been the push to get the ball rolling, Soto believes they would still likely be in this position.

"Even though those schools in Maricopa dropped their (football) programs, I think we still would've been having this conversation just because of our current budget situation. We're losing 51 positions this next year. There are going to be possible layoffs. I think these discussions would've been happening regardless of what happened in Maricopa," he said.

Pima Community College announcing budget cuts in mid-April that included eliminating roughly six percent of its staff, equal to roughly 51 full-time positions, in addition to 10 instructional faculty and three administrative office positions.

With about 90 student-athletes on the football team soon to be left without the program, Soto said they are looking into potential scholarships to keep them in the classroom.

"That's still kind of in the works. But what we realize is there's going to be a void for football players in town. We still want them to attend college. We've always said the lure to get them there might be football, but our true goal is to get them hooked on higher education," he said.

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