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Ridgewater College eliminates its football program

Ridgewater has campuses in Willmar and Hutchinson.

Ridgewater College has made the decision to eliminate its football program due to a declining interest from student-athletes and a lack of financial support.

The decision comes nearly three months after the central Minnesota community college canceled its season prematurely after the team's roster declined from 54 to 22 players, with the college at the time citing player safety as the main reason for the cancelation of its remaining games. 

More than half of the 2018 roster was lost due to suspensions, personal reasons and players withdrawing from the program. 

"While our football program has a long history with a successful track record of performance on the field and positive impact on student-athletes participating in the team, the college has been increasingly challenged in recent years to attract and retain sufficient numbers of players who are positioned for success both on the field and in the classroom," said President Craig Johnson in a release. 

"We would need to significantly increase our resources and support services to ensure a successful and competitive program, including student housing on campus, and we are not in a financial position to do so."

According to the West Central Tribune, Ridgewater, which has campuses in Willmar and Hutchinson, reviewed the football program costs and academic performance from the past five years before coming to the decision. 

"We would need to significantly increase our resources and support services to ensure a successful and competitive program, including student housing on campus, and we are not in a financial position to do so," Johnson said.

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Current football players will be able to file hardship requests to the NJCAA, which could grant them another year of playing eligibility at another college.

Eliminating the football program frees up about $70,000 that Ridgewater officials plans to redistribute it to other student activities, although exact plans haven't been formalized.

Ridgewater will continue participating in baseball, basketball, wrestling, softball and volleyball.  

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