By Ray Hamill — Much like the local sports community, the College of the Redwoods athletic department was left in shock this week after the school administration made the decision to suspend the football and beach volleyball teams for budgetary reasons.
Faced with having to redirect almost half a million dollars from the department because of campus-wide budget cuts in the wake of COVID-19, the Corsairs announced the decision on Thursday morning.
And, according to Athletic Director Bob Brown, the reaction from the local sports community and boosters has been one of sympathy more than anger.
“It’s been sympathetic and it’s been supportive,” Brown said of the community response. “We’re all sort of in shock, and most of that is because of how quickly this was placed on us.”
Brown added that the decision is one the entire department is feeling.
“We focus on really creating a family dynamic here,” he said. “We all have to support each other for each of us to be successful. With this suspension, we’re losing our big brother and it’s hard on the entire department. We’re all grieving for them as well.”
The decision, according to Brown, was made by the school’s senior administration, which opted to suspend a football team that took up approximately 45 percent of the department’s budget instead of several other programs.
To meet the necessary cutbacks without suspending football, the Corsairs would have had to suspend almost every sport.
Brown says the coaches and school will work with the student athletes affected to find them another program to play for if they choose to leave.
With a strong possibility the community college football season will be pushed back to the new year, players who want to move on immediately should have a chance to find a new team in time for next season.
Brown also suggested the suspension may not be permanent and that he is hoping the programs will be reinstated sometime down the road.
“We will work to do everything we can to make that happen,” he said.
He also stressed that the decision had nothing to do with how the programs have been operated and that football head coach Frank Borba and his staff ran things in a frugal fashion.
The beach volleyball program, which has been at CR for just four years, was run by volleyball coach Petra Lorenzi and played a big role in helping develop players for the indoor team.
“It was an important opportunity, especially for female student athletes,” Brown said of the program. “We are grateful to still have the indoor team that many of them can transition to, but nonetheless it was a unique athletic experience for those girls and a cool sport for us to have.”
The budgetary issues the school is facing are not unique to CR and Brown expects many of the community colleges around the state to face similar problems.
“Across the board in California I think everybody is under the gun,” he said.
The issues at CR, however, are further complicated because of the travel involved for Corsairs teams.
The cuts also included the department’s Cap and Gown program, which was implemented in 2013 to provide extra academic support for the student athletes, and has been instrumental in an increased number of student athletes graduating in recent years.
The AD added that the college as a whole remains committed to helping its student athletes receive the best education possible and giving them the best athletic experience possible.