Harper College Discontinues Football Program

PALATINE, IL - Harper College President Kenneth L. Ender has announced that the Harper College Football program will be discontinued following the recent elimination of football teams at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, IL and Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, MI. The move will leave the Midwest Football Conference with five teams, and only one, the College of DuPage, in Illinois.

The decision was made upon the recommendation of the College Provost and in consultation with the Harper College Board of Trustees.

"This is a painful decision," said Dr. Ender. "Harper has had a long and proud football tradition. But with only one community college football team left in Illinois and four out-of state teams in the conference, it became clear we could no longer sustain the program."

The remaining teams in the Midwest Football Conference are College of DuPage, Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, IA, Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, IA, Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, IA and North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, ND.

While budget issues and scheduling difficulties played a role in the College's decision, residency of the players was also a growing concern. Over the past six years, more than 90% of Harper's football players came from outside the district, creating significant challenges for student-athletes. Harper does not have student housing, which means most football players need to find living space off campus.

"Many of these students are 18 and 19 years old living away from home for the first time and they're trying to manage their housing, finances and academics and play football," said Dr. Ender.
"The dynamic has contributed to low academic performance and a high dropout rate. That was also a factor in our decision."

The College plans to conduct a normal spring training schedule for current student-athletes, and coaches and staff will work with colleges to place Harper football players in other programs.

"We are committed to working closely with our football players who are affected by this decision," said Doug Spiwak, Harper College Athletic Director. "We will continue to offer them support to help them succeed academically should they chose to stay at Harper or help them transfer successfully to another college football program."

Contact: Phil Burdick