For many sports fans, fall means football season. Could HFC have a football team in the near future? According to Hawks Athletic Director, Rochelle Taylor, “Football would cost too much in equipment, travel and food.” Taylor said there is one community college in the region that has a football team, and it travels to New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. However, football is a big sport in Michigan, and Taylor said she has students come and ask her every year about a football team.
Located in Nelsonville, Ohio, Hocking College is the only community college in our region that has a football team. The Hocking Hawks must travel to Georgia and New York every other week.
Allen Park High School football coach Tom Danosky, when asked what he thought about a community college such as HFC possibly getting a football team said, “It can possibly motivate those students to take an interest in education. Some of those athletes who have struggled with school may not otherwise continue their education. This may encourage student-athletes to continue their education.”
For some, playing at a community college could provide a chance beyond high school to be scouted by teams from larger conferences and divisions. The NCAA has seen its attendance grow over the last decade from about 40 million in 2005 to about 49 million in 2015, according to the National Football Foundation. There is currently a group of junior college teams playing across the Midwest.
As of right now, there are 66 schools in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). Of the 66 schools, there are 18 teams from Minnesota to New York.
One issue with the creation of a community college football team is the potential impact on the ability of the NCAA to discipline players. The NCAA, the governing body of nearly all of college sports, does not yet have rules preventing players who might be suspended or in trouble with the NCAA from transferring to a community college to play. Last year, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) announced it would no longer accept transfer athletes who have a history of violence or sexual assault.
In an article last year in Inside Higher Ed, Jake New reported that Hocking College created the football program, in part, to help bring in revenue to offset the college’s budget deficit. However, the success of the Hocking Hawks football team was overshadowed when news broke that starting quarterback Trent Mays had spent two years in a juvenile detention facility for sexual assault. As reported by New, Hocking College defended its decision to keep Mays on the team, indicating everyone deserves a second chance and that Mays had already served his time.
While a football team at HFC may not be in the college’s immediate future, Taylor has not ruled it out entirely. Taylor said if there was more than just one team in our region that had football, she would take it to the board to decide on the ability to add a team. Taylor did say that before the Hawks Athletics department could think about adding football to the list of varsity sports, priority must be given to all current sports to ensure they have the resources they need.