by Lexy Romano
At the end of the 2018 school year, the Matt O. Hanhila field will no longer be home to the fighting Gauchos football team. This is the final year for this popular team sport here at Glendale Community College.
The decision to cut football from Glendale Community College was announced on Feb. 5. Along with Glendale, three other campuses, Mesa, Scottsdale and Phoenix, will also be losing their teams when this school year closes. This decision is coming due to continued budget constraints that have made this popular, but expensive sport hard to support over the years.
“They were basically having to rob Peter to pay Paul to support the football program,” said Matt Hasson, public relations representative for the MCCD board. He explained that this decision frees up thousands of dollars’ worth of funds, which will enable the college to provide better support and educational resources for the entire student body. Hasson went on to say “we were limiting classes because we weren’t able to spend that money, there is technology refresh that we need and that is what this money can go to.”
Even if funds are opened up for other things, as Hasson says, football is a vital part of the Community College environment. According to a recent Arizona Republic article, “JUCO football doesn’t draw the revenue, attention or prestige of Division 1 college football. But it’s a key pipeline for athletes who want to play football at major universities.” GCC alone funnels many students on to play football at ASU and other 4-year-schools in Arizona and beyond.
Head Coach Michael “Mickey” Bell, who coaches the GCC Gauchos, has high hopes for his team this year, believing that the main goal of the Community College football program is to get students to four-year-schools where they can get scholarships for playing football. Bell said in 2014 he did a study that showed the exiting GCC football players who went on to four-year-schools received around $1.4 million in scholarship money for football alone.
“The key is that they all have scholarship money available to them for playing football… Getting their education paid for at a good school, that’s the goal,” said Coach Bell. He believes the team can and will do great things this year, and looks forward to a successful season.
Bell also said that even with the proposed elimination of the program next year, morale on the team is still as high as ever. “They’re playing football, so they are excited,” Bell said. “We finally got a victory last week against Phoenix College, and every team [in the division] is pretty good now, so we just have to continue to try and get better.”