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Why is Menlo College eliminating the football program? 

Scheduling issues – Menlo College operates the only NAIA football program in the state of California, and the only non-Division I program in the Bay Area. Due to the geographic isolation of the football program, Menlo was unable to secure a conference affiliation for the football program.  As a result, Menlo’s football team was forced to travel to far-ranging states to compete against available opponents. Adding to the challenge is that Menlo has to offer substantial compensation to entice other teams to travel to California.

Financial realities – Football expenditures have nearly tripled over the last five years, largely due to increased travel and insurance costs. The rapidly escalating cost of football at Menlo pulled funding from other athletic programs, including coaches and facilities. 

Who made this decision?

The decision was reached by the trustees of Menlo College, in consultation with the President and the Athletic Director. 

Are you dropping football to save money?

No.  Over the years, the investments required to support the football program at Menlo have increased exponentially.  We had to pay opponents to play, and saw a future of increasingly big demands on our resources.  We made the decision to reinvest funds to make our other sports stronger, and benefit the college broadly.  We believe that Menlo College will ultimately be a stronger, more successful institution across the board as a result of this decision. 

Does this decision mean that the college is in financial trouble?

No.  With this move, the college is demonstrating financially sound stewardship, and a determination to use our resources where they will deliver support to further our mission to make Menlo College an institution of excellence across-the-board.

What will happen to the scholarships of current players? Will they have the option to transfer to other schools that still offer a football program? 

We will continue to fund the scholarship commitments that were made to our football team members when they were first recruited to Menlo College.  We have been in contact with our sponsoring athletic association, the NAIA, to ensure that support will be available to those student-athletes who will choose to pursue athletic opportunities at other colleges. NAIA rules provide student-athletes with the option to transfer to another four-year institution and play immediately.

What options do current football players have?

What about football players joining other teams at Menlo College? 

We will make every effort to ensure that members of our football team are offered a roster spot on any of our other teams where their skills and interests align.  We offer a wide range of varsity athletic programs at Menlo College, including baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, wrestling, and competitive cheer. We also have plans to invigorate the club sports offered at Menlo.  We are committed to fully supporting those affected by this decision while they determine the best decision for their futures.

What will happen to the scholarships of players that have signed letters of intent to join Menlo in fall 2015?

Just as we will honor all scholarship commitments made to current football players in past years, Menlo College will stand behind any offers that have already been extended to football student-athletes who plan to enroll at Menlo in the fall of 2015.  Any students who choose to enroll will be given the opportunity to secure a roster spot on any of our 12 other teams where their skills, interests and qualifications align.

Will the College still sponsor Homecoming? 

Yes.  Homecoming will still occur on the same date.  It will, though, now feature major activities focused on our other great sports, including men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.  It will be a major event for Menlo College going forward. 

Is the college looking at adding more sports? 

Yes.  We are actively looking at other sports to add to our roster.  We also have plans to develop a robust club and intramural athletics program on campus that will provide a host of opportunities to each and every student; sports being considered include rugby, men’s volleyball, and lacrosse.

What will happen to the football coaching staff?

Menlo College will honor all existing football personnel contracts for the duration of the 2014-15 academic year.  We will support our staff during this time as they pursue other opportunities in their field. 

Why make this decision now?

We understand that our decision affects the lives of many, students and staff alike.  Understandably, many of our personnel and our students may consider pursuing opportunities elsewhere.  Our hope is that an announcement that is tied to imminent action is better than a protracted period of transition for everyone concerned. 

Has Menlo explored alternative divisions and/or conferences for their athletic program?

Yes, Menlo College has explored opportunities specific for football at the NAIA level.  Menlo made application to the Frontier Conference, made up primarily of Montana colleges but our application was denied due to the travel obligations our location would demand for the conference members.  We also purused the Central States Football Conference, made up mostly by colleges in Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma – but they too were unwilling to expand their reach to include our location.  Most recently we talked with the North Star Athletic Association based in North Dakota about football-specific membership. While no membership was guaranteed, further review determined it to be equally or more cost prohibitive and travel-intensive than the current situation.

What about NCAA opportunities for Menlo?

We researched the possibility of providing program stability through a NCAA Division II or Division III affiliation – specifically the Great Northwest Conference in Division II, which spans from Oregon through Montana up to Alaska.  While it would bring a certain level of stabilization to football, it would be cost-prohibitive and academically challenging for student-athletes to miss the amount of class time necessary to fulfill a schedule if the season demanded travel to the schools included in the Great Northwest Conference.  Moreover, the cost associated with scholarships, coaching salaries and travel at the Division II level is beyond the current institutional capacity.

The Division III affiliations we explored included the Northwest Conference as well as the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Both conferences expressed a lack of interest in expanding to the Bay Area. Furthermore, a move to Division III would restrict us from postseason opportunities for five years, and require a drastic change in institutional philosophy (NCAA rules prohibit Division III schools from offering financial aid to any student “on the basis of athletics leadership, ability, participation or performance”). 

What makes football different from the other athletic programs at Menlo?

Unlike our other varsity sports, football is not offered in our athletic conference.  In fact we are the only remaining college or university in our athletic association (the NAIA) in all of California that is still sponsoring a football team.  That geographic isolation forces us to travel from coast-to-coast, and from Canada to Florida just to cobble together a season of away.  Over the last 3 seasons, our student-athletes have traveled an average of over 12,000 miles per season, adding significantly to their time away from their classes and studies.  Our lack of a conference has required us to put money on the table in the form of game guarantees in order to induce teams to travel to our campus for home games.   Meanwhile, other football related costs are also escalating more rapidly for football, most particularly insurance, equipment, and facility maintenance.

What are other schools doing with their football programs?

Seven area schools have dropped their football programs in the last two decades.  Menlo is now the only remaining college or university in our athletic association in all of California that is still sponsoring a football team.  The schools that still sponsor football in the Bay area are all NCAA Division 1, and on average, have a student enrollment of 24,000 (compared to our enrollment of 750).  The area Division 1 schools are UC-Berkeley, Sacramento State, San Jose State, UC Davis, Cal Poly-SLO and Stanford.

What is happening elsewhere in the country?

Many institutions are facing the same challenges as Menlo, and over the years, many have chosen to eliminate their football program.  In part, that reflects the uniquely high expenses of the sport of football and the challenges in operating a winning program; in part, though, it reflects a decreasing participation in football at the high school level.  California recorded a 4% decline in the number of high school football players in recent years.  For the last several years, Menlo has been the only remaining college or university in our athletic association in all of California that is still sponsoring a football team.

How will this decision benefit the other athletic programs at Menlo?

Discontinuing the football program affords us the best opportunity to support the athletic needs of our entire student population. Most of our athletic programs are underfunded.  Reallocating the funds we now spend on football gives us the best chance to win national championships – and truly put Menlo on the map. Many of our programs have been close to the next level in recent years and additional financial support will help get them to the goal.

How do I obtain additional information?

Send us an email at sportsinformation@menlo.edu.

Menlo College

Menlo College