Football season is underway, but there will be no games at Glendale Community College.
This is the first year since 1967 GCC will not have a football program. At the end of the last season, Maricopa County Community College District not only terminated GCC’s football program, it terminated those at Scottsdale Community College, Phoenix College and Mesa Community College.
With a quarter of the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference football teams gone, the remaining schools have terminated their football programs, as well, causing the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference to drop the sport completely.
The district announced last year that it was simply too expensive to continue the football programs. It cited failing facilities that needed major renovations.
But for many football supporters, to see a successful NJCAA football program like GCC’s gone in a flash was very hard to take in. According to fans, the football program gave those who were late-bloomers and those who were under recruited a chance to get on a four-year college’s radar.
In this year’s NFL draft, 15 former NJCAA players were selected with two of them going in the first round. And, six former NJCAA football players participated in the most recent Super Bowl.
The popular Netflix show Last Chance U follows the biggest most famous community college football programs that send the most players to mostly bigger name division one schools.
“[Junior college sports] helped me form the skills that were needed to move on to the next level not just athletic wise also the academic side of being a college athlete,” former NJCAA baseball player Jeff Meinke said.
Meinke said in high school, it is easy to play sports and stay academically eligible. But in college, he found out fast that was not the case. He said some of his past teammates who went directly to a four-year university had troubles academically or did not get to play their first two years. If they would have gone the junior college route first they could have played more and maybe received better offers to possibly a better school than the one they originally attended.
GCC football was a large part of the Glendale community; attending the games on Saturdays was a big draw for many people of Glendale. The program always drew in numbers due to the fact that the Gauchos were three time NJCAA football champions.