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Breaking: Grinnell College withdraws its football team from its remaining games, cites injuries and concerns for player safety

Grinnell College
Grinnell College has withdrawn from its remaining football games for the 2019 season. Photo by Justin Hayworth/Grinnell College.
Grinnell College has withdrawn from its remaining football games for the 2019 season. Photo by Justin Hayworth/Grinnell College.

The Grinnell College Pioneer football team’s fall 2019 season has come to an abrupt end after the College decided to withdraw from their remaining seven games of the season. According to Andy Hamilton ’85, director of athletics, the College made the decision based on the high number of injuries to players and the resulting lack of qualified, uninjured members of the roster.

Out of the team’s 39 players this season, 11 have suffered injuries that disqualified them from play, leaving them with just six players more than the NCAA-required minimum 22-member squad. This made it impossible for the team to have backup players for every position. A press release sent by the College to the S&B emphasized that the decision was made in order to preserve players’ health and safety, stating that “the current state of the football team precludes the College from providing a safe environment”. Hamilton said that the decision was officially codified on Monday morning.

Currently, the team is awaiting a ruling from the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) to find out if they will be allowed to continue practice and training over the period that would have been the regular season. NCAA regulations do not permit teams to practice during the off-season, and, Hamilton said, “we don’t know whether this move has actually triggered the off-season. We’re just waiting on that, and once we know, we’ll proceed accordingly with our players and coaches.”

The team currently stands with zero wins and three losses for the games already played this season. According to Hamilton, team and player stats generated in those games will stand. Additionally, Hamilton said that based on information from the NCAA commissioner, the team’s remaining games will be scored as “no-contest,” rather than forfeitures, meaning that they will not officially count toward win-loss records.

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    Gregory LeeOct 12, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Open Letter to “Grandson”: Just checked by hear yo see if anyone, especially from Admin, had commented. I think we have our answer as far as level of support from leadership and maybe even from current students. You present an interesting theory – maybe there is an active effort to be “inactive”. If they don’t promote and fund the program, it will just die out (seemingly but really) on its own. When I was there, we had to contend with a student subculture that felt football was obscene and degenerate. Young people with no idea of the intangible lessons that may be gained from engaging
    in a physically and emotionally challenging task. Seems that subculture May have become mainstream now. We are going to find out soon enough.

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    Grandson of Old GrinnellOct 4, 2019 at 6:57 am

    This is so sad, but symptomatic of the premium placed by college on buildings and fancy “stuff”.

    There was a time Grinnell was in top-five of endowment per student. Still more than $1.3M per student.

    If true that FB team had fewer than 40 players for past several years, that shows significant administrative indifference. Obviously recruiting by coaches and the admission office is pathetic. Regardless of how well they work together or not, the roster size shows incompetence by both.

    In the end, however, I wonder how leadership — mostly the current president — is behind all of this and more. Football seems unsupported, Rabbi position now unfilled going on two academic years, fair wages for more student workers via union is steamrolled, nationally recognized Posse group is eliminated, and on… all of this should/would appeal to large swaths of students. Instead, there is a “prize” and a “poll” and a “confluence” that appeal to what – P.R.?

    Cmon, trustees, this guy has served long enough. How many more buildings can you build? Cut him loose and get back to a true focus on the best education for the best students and focus your money in making that happen!

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    Gregory LeeOct 3, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    As an alum, I was hoping to find comments by some of the players and coaches here. It’s a national story but we see quotes only from the College. Is the program going to be scrapped? Why is Grinnell struggling to attract players while similar schools throughout the Midwest still have a draw? They are all expensive, so how are Carleton, Cornell, Chicago or Knox getting it done? Our facilities are first rate. Our uniforms are sharp! Maybe we compare aid offered to scholar athletes at other schools. Invest or put the program out of its misery, please. “Sons of ol’ Grinnell” deserve better than this ignominious end.