Lane is unlikely to add a football team to its athletic program anytime soon.
During the mid to late ‘90s, Walla Walla Community College and Wenatchee Valley College were the only schools in the NWAACC that had football programs.
While California has two conferences with at least 30 teams at the junior college football level, Oregon has none. The closest community college football program to Lane is in Weed, Calif., at the College of the Siskiyous.
“Establishing a league would be extremely difficult since you would need the NWAACC to have other member schools add the sport,” said Robert Strickland, who has taught flag football at Lane for 10 years.
NWAACC Executive Director Marco Azurdia said state budgets dictate how much money community colleges receive for programs and activities.
“(Football) is just so cost prohibitive for community colleges to try and maintain it,” Lane Athletic Director Greg Sheley said.
Sheley said that the biggest difference between starting up a football team, as opposed to a small sport, would be insurance cost and liability cost.
“I know that with football, there is maintaining the integrity of the helmet, the pads, the protective gear,” Sheley said. “There is always refurbishing and I know that is an expensive cost.”
Strickland said that after costs, checking to see if the facilities are more than adequate would be the next step. The last step would be to find a coaching staff.
Title IX is a federal law that requires schools with athletic programs to offer the same number of opportunities to women and men. If schools do not abide by this law, they could face serious repercussions.
“It goes as far as the college’s financial aid, and stuff like that can be affected if we are not compliant,” Sheley said.
He said there’s a movement to exclude football from Title IX because of the number of male players on a football team. No female-oriented sports come close to offering the same opportunities.
“I think any time you talk about athletics, we always want to be or looking to bring in sports. You want to address the needs of the particular community you are serving, whether it’s football or other sports. I think people really do understand the benefit of having athletics for students and the community,” Strickland said.
Before Sheley became the athletic director, he also taught a flag football class. He said the students who have played some high school football locally seem to be the majority that are still interested in that class.
“I often times just think to myself, ‘can we do it on a smaller scale, like eight-man football?’” Azurdia said.
“Then again, how would that help someone that wants to transfer to Oregon or OSU, or even Linfield if they only play eight-man football?”
Approximately one to three players in Strickland’s class have the physical potential to participate if Lane was to get a football program, he said. The coaches would have to recruit hard to get more talent.
“They would go out to watch games, watch practices, watch combines — those types of things they have for high school kids to evaluate talent — gauge interest and then try to build a team,” Sheley said.
Four-year flag football veteran Zach Boeger would be eager to join if Lane had a football team.
“It would allow me the chance to play the sport I love at the school I go to. People I know could play since they attend Lane as well,” Boeger said.