Louis Ascencio

Sports Editor 

After much speculation and rumors that circulated on November 14th about the abolishment of the Poets’ Football program, today the cancellation was finally confirmed to be true. However, football was not the only athletics program to see its culmination. On November 15, Whittier College President Linda S. Oubré announced via email the “difficult decision” to discontinue the Football program, along with the Men’s Lacrosse program and both Golf programs after a “three-year review process.”

A football program with over a century of history tied to it has come to an end. This occurs just a day after a tweet sent by former Poet Defensive Coordinator, Tony Caljean, which sparked the rumor of whether or not the football program had seen its conclusion. On November 14, Caljean tweeted “Incredibly proud of what we were building at Whittier and the transformation we were making. However, this morning I was informed that Whittier College will be dropping the football program. It’s with a heavy heart I thank Coach Neale, our coaches, players, and recruits.” This news came as a surprise to students, faculty, and especially the athletes themselves. 

Ultimately, the head coach along with his entire coaching staff was handed their final paycheck after their final game of the 2022 season, per the players themselves. After finishing the season with an 0-9 record, the offensive and defensive coordinators, along with the head coach, had come under fire from players for the team’s dismal performance. Many players had expressed interest in getting a brand-new coaching staff due to being disgruntled with Neale and his choice of staff. The Poets have only had three victories in their five seasons under Michael Neale, going three seasons without a victory; although the 2020 and 2021 classes brought in talent that was nothing short of spectacular. As soon as news broke out, numerous players claimed to be already being recruited by other colleges.

The reasoning for discontinuing two of these programs is in question. Oubré claims “there is growing concern around contact sports – lacrosse and football… When it comes to the health of our student-athletes, we must take this concern seriously.” She claims that football is seeing its “decline” in American society, and the attendance numbers of top-level college games have declined by 10%. 

Two other programs that also see their end are both men’s and women’s golf. Two programs that leave a long period of history behind them, as well as current talented teams that have filled these rosters. The most shocking news to come from all this has been the discontinuation of the men’s lacrosse program. A program that has seen its fair share of success since its establishment in 1980. A program that won 10 club championships in the span of 20 years, as well as making it to the semi-finals of the NCAA Division III National Championships. In their previous season, this team finished the 2022 season with an 8-5 record. 

In Oubré’s announcement of the discontinuation of the four programs, Oubré and the College aim to help these players in regard to their future as student-athletes. “Whittier College coaches and players were informed prior to this announcement’s wide release. In anticipation of the announcement, we have created an advising plan that involves one-on-one meetings with each player to help them navigate these changes, answer any questions, and create a space to develop an individual academic plan moving forward”, she said. 

Despite the announcement, Whittier College still remains with 18 NCAA sports programs and has no plans to discontinue any of their other athletic programs, as of currently.

Photo courtesy of petersons.com

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