The same day that Garden City Community College announced its new head football coach would be Tom Minnick, Arizona Western College, Minnick’s former program, announced that it would be ending its football program after six decades.
“The college worked during the past year to navigate a series of seismic changes at the league and 2-year collegiate level, but was unsuccessful in carving a sustainable path forward for the program,” a release from Arizona Western said.
The seismic changes it was referencing was the elimination of the football programs at all four Maricopa County, Ariz., colleges — Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and Glendale — and the subsequent announcement that Pima also would drop its program, meaning five of the Western States Football League (which also includes Snow (Utah) and East Arizona) would no longer compete in football.
“At the end of the day, the challenges we faced to continue the program — with the uncertain future of the league, the difficulty in putting together a schedule, the inability to fund increased travel — were simply too much,” Arizona Western College President Dr. Daniel Corr said, according to the release.
Minnick was saddened by the decision, he said Thursday.
“The whole state of Arizona is going to hurt about 800 kids,” Minnick said. “That system was giving about 800 kids an opportunity to get an education, and to move on to a four-year school and better themselves.”
East Arizona officials also were meeting on Thursday to decide that program’s future. The decision had not been made as of press time Thursday.
The release said that close to 200 players had transferred to four-year colleges and universities in Minnick’s 11 years at the helm of the program — that did not include the numbers of players who transferred but did not play football at a four-year university.
Now down six football programs, the NJCAA is comprised of 59 football programs entering the 2019 season, pending Eastern Arizona’s decision. The NJCAA had 69 as recently as 2012.