Occidental College Gateway

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Eagle Rock - Occidental College will discontinue its football program after more than a century, the college announced this week.

“We want to offer the best possible experience for our student-athletes, and the College has determined that to do so for football would require a level of investment that is not sustainable, especially relative to other priorities and following the impact of the pandemic,” said Occidental's President Harry J. Elam, Jr., as he announced the decision Tuesday.

After ending the season four games early in 2017 because of injuries, the college resumed the program the following year after raising nearly $1 million from alumni. 

But the program could not continue without significant, long-term funding from the college Elam said. The current football budget already makes up nearly 20% of total direct expenses for all 21 varsity teams, Elam said.

"Given the size of the roster and number of coaches, the costs of equipment, training, and travel, football is an expensive sport to maintain, particularly to remain competitive and ensure players’ safety," according to a college statement. "In addition to these issues, the difficulty of recruitment has figured prominently."

Oxy football dates back 126 years, with former U.S. Congressman Jack Kemp '57, Jim Mora '57 and Vance Mueller '86 among its most prominent players. 

The decision is expected to result in layoffs.

"Oxy players and coaches were informed prior to this announcement being sent, and in those meetings we have communicated that we will be available to meet and discuss the implications of discontinuing football at Oxy, to provide support, and to address any concerns, the college said in a statement.

No games were scheduled to be played this season in football or in any other fall sports, because of the pandemic, said a college official.

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