Azusa Pacific University, a private college near Los Angeles, has folded its football team, Gary Pine, director of athletics, announced Wednesday. The university was the only California-based NCAA Division II institution with a football program, a press release from the athletic department said.
“While that status created a unique recruiting proposition for the university, it eventually became an expensive one as well,” the release said.
The university cited a shrinking number of colleges in California that offer football as the primary reason why it eliminated the sport, the release said. Occidental College, which is in Los Angeles and had a NCAA Division III football program, eliminated its team in October.
Fourteen four-year colleges in the state have dropped their football teams over the last three decades, and Azusa Pacific was struggling to find nearby opponents that would not require the football team to frequently travel by airplane, which is a financial drain, the release said. In 2019, the university had to fly football players to all six of their away games and was the only NCAA Division II or III team nationwide that was forced to do so, the release said.
“The long-term trends of college football in California have eroded the fiscal sustainability of many programs, ours included, and caused annual departmental deficits,” Pine said in the release. “The strategic reallocation of funding strengthens our Athletics portfolio and overall commitment to student-athletic success. These measures create the right environment for the next chapter in Cougar Athletics.”