Loss of football program also means loss of diversity, opportunity
Lumberjacks football has been a staple of Humboldt for over 90 years. But this season will be the last for the foreseeable future and this community is losing more than just a team.
Football brings more to the table than just sports. Student-athletes chose this school to pursue their education and to chase their dream of playing college football.
Terminating Jacks football will be the conclusion of a program that has been a part of Humboldt since 1924, not long after HSU’s founding. The program has seen some standout stars and big-time players along the way. Lumberjacks 2017 All-American offensive lineman Alex Cappa was selected 94th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this year’s NFL draft.
HSU says they do their due diligence to remain somewhat ethnically balanced while bringing in students from all over California. This practice is misleading as the university’s surrounding areas have many racial undertones. The football team is one part of the school that was true to HSU’s message of inclusivity.
Where there were once young men of all races working diligently towards the same goal, there will no longer be. The locker room that once brought men together will be empty.
HSU will honor scholarships for eligible players through the 2018-19 academic year, and coaches and staff will also help players contact other programs. At the end of the season, players will get a full release, which means they could choose to play at another institution.
President Lisa Rossbacher called it an unfortunate but necessary step in addressing the University’s structural deficit and protecting the school’s core academic mission. In her “mission” she has neglected a big part of what is supposed to make this university great.
The closing statement of our mission states: “We help individuals prepare to be responsible members of diverse societies.”
Less than four percent of HSU’s student population is African American and less than two percent of faculty are African American. Where is the diversity? Where is the care for the individual student?
HSU has experienced lower enrollment over the last two years. Fall enrollment has dropped by more than 400 students. This dip has had a measurable impact on the budget and the loss of football will expectedly lead to an additional decline in enrollment, which in turn will bring less people of color.
While getting rid of the football program could possibly be the right decision fiscally, the loss will be felt by many. People may not have ever met, had it not been for the football team. Familiar faces will change into strangers faces. What once brought a sense of camaraderie to this campus will now no longer exist.
HSU hopes that contributors and boosters will continue to support HSU athletics but the $200,000 or more increase in contributions last year was for football. Loss of the football program will have a long-term ripple effect. Where and what gets hit the hardest remains to be seen.