The last time Division III Earlham College’s football team won a game, it was October 2013. 53 losses later, it might end up being the last win in school history.
Tuesday, interim president Avis Stewart announced that the 2019 season would be suspended for the Richmond, Indiana school. He also said that he was “authorizing a review to examine the factors that are necessary to build and sustain a viable and competitive football program that would potentially attract significant numbers of student-athletes to enroll in our College.”
The Quakers last game was a 70-6 loss to Rose-Hulman this past Saturday, which completed their fifth-consecutive winless season. Their 53-game losing streak is a Division III national record.
“As President of Earlham College, I am well aware of the many ways in which a successful athletics program can enhance and strengthen the overall well-being of a college,” Stewart said in his statement. “More specifically, it is certainly true that our football program has contributed to the success and development of many of the College’s alumni, and that it means a great deal to these individuals as well as our community. It is important to acknowledge the football program’s role in benefitting enrollment, diversity, net tuition revenue, and the overall student experience.
However, all hope is not lost for Earlham’s football fanatics. The program may be reinstated in 2020 if a few conditions are met. Per Stewart, the school needs to determine the appropriate funding levels and resources to support football, recruit an appropriate number of student-athletes to field a competitive squad, and hire a “qualified head coach.” Ouch to the guy who coached the team this year.
All of that losing had taken a toll on the interest in playing for the Quakers. Per the Pal-Item, there were only three seniors on the team’s 42-player roster this season. And to make a sad story even sadder, those seniors left without ever winning a game their entire college careers.
As for the non-seniors, Earlham said it will assist with transfer requests from student-athletes who were recruited to play football and would like to continue their career elsewhere. Those who decide to remain at Earlham will have the “participate in special experiential learning opportunities in the local community.”
Earlham’s football program actually dates all the way back to 1889, when it would regularly compete against the likes of Indiana, Purdue, Kentucky, and Ball State. According to Wikipedia, the team once played an exhibition game against Japan’s Doshisha University Hamburgers, which really deserves it’s own discussion another time.