Vignettes about Events & People


Intercollegiate FootballOn Dec. 19, 11983, intercollegiate football was discontinued after 57 seasons.

On Dec. 19, 1983, the Cowley Board of Trustees discontinued intercollegiate football after 57 seasons. It was a decision met with mixed emotions. On Dec. 6, the Board of Trustees called a special meeting to review the college’s entire athletic department. The football program captured most of the attention as the Board discussed the near-$34,000 loss for the year. Board member Dick Bonfy said, "You look at this as a businessman, and we’ve got a program that’s losing $30,000 a year and causing us some other problems and you look at it and what are you going to do with it."


Poor quality of students and bad citizenship were cited as two of the other problems. Said Board member Steve McSpadden, "What I’m interested in is seeing that the quality of student life is maintained. I want to be sure we’re attracting students who will fit into our student body." During the special meeting, college President Dr. Gwen Nelson outlined five alternatives facing the Board: (1) maintain the current football program (2) make significant improvements to the football program (3) de-emphasize winning (4) play only in-state students (5) drop a sport.


Considerable discussion about playing all Kansas students in football followed, with Board members questioning the feasibility of fielding a competitive in-state team in the Jayhawk Conference. The administration was charged with the responsibility of studying the question and bringing alternatives to the Board at the next regular meeting. Said Board member Dr. Charles Kerr, "If we want to be competitive, we’re going to have to spend money. If we don’t, we need to be honest with our community and do something else." And "something else" was just what the Board did.


At the regular monthly meeting on Dec. 19, 1983, trustees voted to drop the football program. The Tigers struggled to a 2-7-0 record during their final season. Some members of the community felt the program was thoughtlessly dismissed and began to rally to save it. With the Tiger Booster Club as the leader, petitions for reinstatement were circulated around Arkansas City. The petitions were to be presented to the Board of Trustees in hopes it might consider rescinding its vote to drop the program. But no petitions were presented at the Jan. 16, 1984, meeting. Instead, approximately 75 people attended the meeting in support of the Board’s decision. In a few cases, people expressed their disagreement with the decision.


Angry Cowley sports enthusiast Dan Walker approached the trustees about their impulsive action and called the decision the "Monday Night Massacre." Assistant coach George Caine and head coach Bill Yocum questioned the Board’s action and defended the program. Members of the Board during the 1983-84 academic year were Steve McSpadden, Dick Bonfy, Joe McFall, Ralph Keefe, Dr. Charles Kerr, and Bill Curless. The football coaching staff during the last season: Head coach Bill Yocum, assistant coaches Jim Miesner, George Caine, Larry Lauderdale, and A.J. Johnson.

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