Azusa Pacific has made the decision to shut down their 55-year-old football program

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Azusa Pacific Cougars has shut down their football program on Tuesday, the school announced. The program had been around for 55-years. They competed in the NCAA and the NAIA.

This decision is the latest college sport to be stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic. Due to sports being shut down for months — and no revenue from fans in attendance — college athletic departments have seen a huge loss in revenue.

Football (Photo by Pixabay)

“This is an extremely difficult decision,” Azusa Pacific Director of Athletics Gary Pine said. “I love Cougar football, and it has meant a lot to all of us. Unfortunately, the long-term trends of college football in California have eroded the fiscal sustainability of many programs, ours included, and caused annual departmental deficits. The strategic reallocation of funding strengthens our Athletics portfolio and overall commitment to student-athletic success. These measures create the right environment for the next chapter in Cougar Athletics.”

Related: Vanderbilt hires alum Lea, as their head football coach

With this announcement, the school will focus their revenue on their remaining 18 sports. The school, according to their athletic website, claimed that this decision ‘reflects the decline of California football over the past 30 years.’

The school said that during the time, 14 four-year colleges in California have closed their football programs. Since this time, only one team, the Chapman Panthers, added their program in 1994.

“I’m saddened, but I understand the decision,” said former Cougar great Christian Okoye ’87, a two-time NFL Pro Bowl running back with the Kansas City Chiefs. “Like so many other football alumni, I am thankful that God brought me to Azusa Pacific. The influence of the university and those who trained me made me who I am today. My friends and teammates feel the same way.”

Related: Illinois fires Lovie Smith following 18-point loss to Northwestern

The school said that they had to take three flights per season. However, in the past four seasons, the team had to take five flights per season.

In addition, the school added that all of their six road games in 2019 required air travel. They were the only Division II or Division III program to fly to all of its road games.

“There has been a lot of great men and success associated with Cougar football,” Pine said. “However, its true impact is the changed lives of many players. As longtime Cougar coach Jim Milhon once said, ‘We don’t play football at Azusa Pacific because we have to beat someone, but rather because of the good it has on the students of the university.'”

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