Why doesn’t AACC have varsity football team?


Photo by Anthony DePanise, reprinted from Campus Crier, Nov. 7, 1989

AACC fielded a football team until 1990, when a lack of competition and poor academic performance among players shut the program down.

Roxanne Ready, Editor-in-Chief

The final game of AACC’s old football team ended in 1989 with a parking lot brawl after a semester of poor athletic performance and academic controversy.

A streak of losses began for the Pioneers—AACC Athletics’ nickname before it became the Riverhawks—with a dramatic 55-0 loss to Montgomery College in 1988. Some observers accused Montgomery of deliberately running up the score, and 15 players walked off AACC’s Pioneers team on the spot.

The Pioneers never recovered.

In the following two seasons, the Pioneers went 0-7, ending with a crushing, 21-7 loss to Westchester Community College of Pennsylvania in fall 1989.

According to Campus Crier—then the name of AACC’s student newspaper—after the final game, players from both teams brawled for about 20 seconds before coaches could break up the fight.

No one was injured, but fans visiting from Baltimore attacked a Westchester fan in the parking lot, beating him so badly he went to the hospital.

Current Women’s Basketball coach Lionell Makell applied for the daunting job of head football coach that year, even as the program was under review for cancelation.

He told Campus Current that AACC officials said they were disbanding the team because the junior college football league only included one other team at the time, and the cost of insurance was too high.

But in an interview with The Anne Arundel County Sun in June 1990, Dr. Raymond Turner, an economics professor and chair of the committee that decided the AACC football team’s fate, said, “As far as money is concerned, it had very little to do with the decision. … [Football] wasn’t contributing to academic success.”

In 1985, the team had dropped from varsity to club status because the poor grades of the athletes made the program ineligible for varsity status under the rules of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

According to Campus Crier, a March 1986 academic report said 69 percent of football players had a GPA below 2.0 for the semester, and nearly a quarter had an average of 0.0.

The following year, the college instituted a program to encourage and monitor academic performance of athletes, but the GPA of the football team’s athletes remained low.

Thomas Florestano, AACC’s president at the time, told The Anne Arundel County Sun in a 1990 interview the team’s disbandment was “inevitable,” but not something he looked forward to.

“Scheduling games and finding teams that we could compete with was becoming more and more difficult each season,” he said. “[But] I, myself, am a big football fan, and I’m sure I’m going to hear it [for dropping football] from a lot of my friends.”

The Pioneers ended their record at 69-89-2 over the course of two decades.