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Players sue Maricopa Community Colleges over loss of football programs

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PHOENIX – Nearly a dozen community college football players have sued Maricopa County’s two-year schools accusing the governing body of racial discrimination for dropping football.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 31 in federal court, listed 11 players, all African-Americans, who said the Maricopa County Community College District board’s decision violated their civil rights and negatively impacted their educational prospects and potential future earnings.

They want the sports returned to the schools.

The district announced last February it was cutting football from its Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix and Scottsdale campuses. No other sports were affected.

The district said in a statement at the time that “ongoing financial constraints” forced the outcome. Officials said they prioritized resources to “meet the changing educational needs of the community.”

Player Stevie Ray Maddox, who graduated from Tempe High School, said in the court document that he accepted a football scholarship to Mesa for the 2018-2019 academic year.

He said losing his scholarship could leave him “financially unable to pursue a four-year degree” and hurt his chances at making a living down the road.

The other players cited similar reasons.

Ryan Felker, who coached football at Mesa, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday, “I think (the suit) is valid. … They did away with junior college football in Spokane (Washington) and it had a huge impact … on certain classes of individuals and the city. A path or vehicle for young men to get an education was taken from them.

“…I hope they fix it.”

District officials said they would not comment on the complaint.

There are no more community college football programs in the state. In December, Arizona Western in Yuma, then Eastern Arizona in Thatcher, dropped the sport in consecutive weeks.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.

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