YUMA, Ariz. (December 5, 2018) – Arizona Western College announced Wednesday, December 5th that the 2018 season of Matador Football would be its final season, leaving behind a well-respected history that stretches across the country and spans 6 decades. The college worked during the past year to navigate a series of seismic changes at the league and 2-year collegiate level, but was unsuccessful in carving a sustainable path forward for the program. Coaching staff and student-athletes have been notified. Current freshmen who have earned college scholarships have been offered a chance to retain their awards to complete their sophomore year.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision for me and my team to make,” Arizona Western College President Dr. Daniel Corr said. “Any time you’re facing the closing of a program, you know you’re going to impact real individual people—your students, your co-workers, your fans—who are passionate about that program. We have talented student-athletes here. We have a dedicated coaching staff. We have a rich tradition and a legacy in football with fans and alums across the region and the country. At the end of the day, the challenges we faced to continue the program—with the uncertain future of the league, the difficulty in putting together a schedule, the inability to fund increased travel—were simply too much.”
The Matadors played in the Western States Football League, which was made up of seven teams from Arizona and Snow College in Utah. Earlier in the year, all four schools located in the Maricopa County Community College District as well as Pima Community College announced they were canceling their programs.
Despite all the changes happening in the league, the Matadors still qualified for a bowl game for the 10th straight season under head coach Tom Minnick. Minnick will go down as the winningest coach in Arizona Western history with 89 wins. He led the team to the NJCAA Football Championship game three separate times including back-to-back trips in 2016-17. The Mats went 20-2 in those two seasons, with their only losses being in the championship. Minnick is also the only coach to win 11 games in a season at AWC. Last week Minnick announced he has accepted the head coaching position at Garden City Community College (Kansas) next season.
Minnick continued a strong tradition of football that started back in the 1960s. Ray Butcher led the team to its only NJCAA National Championship in 1972 with a perfect 10-0 record.
Close to 200 players have transferred to four-year colleges and universities in Minnick’s 11 years, and thousands more have gotten an education all across the nation since the team’s first season in 1964. Players even dot NFL rosters throughout time, with current players including Damien Williams (running back-Kansas City Chiefs), Jacob Hollister (tight end-New England Patriots), Randy Gregory (defensive end-Dallas Cowboys) and Korey Toomer (linebacker-Green Bay Packers).
“On a personal level, I will miss interacting with these student-athletes on campus during the week and cheering them on from the stands on Saturday night,” Corr said.
Vice President for Advancement
Arizona Western College
Phone: (928) 314-9595
Arizona Western College
Phone: (928) 344-7535