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After 80 years, Grand Rapids College ends football.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- Grand Rapids Community College has ended its football program after 80 years and an undefeated season.

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The lack of competition in Michigan and long, costly bus trips as far as Georgia and North Dakota played a large role in the decision. The Grand Rapids Press said some players left during a meeting announcing the demise of the program while others cried.

"This is a great loss," athletic director Charlie Wells acknowledged.

"There are 80 years of history there, and so to have a program go down at this point--no one wanted that to happen," he said. "It's a sad day, but the back side of it is that financially, every budget has been on the chopping block, and so we've had to look at this."

The Jaguars were 30-4 the past three seasons, including 11-0 in 2011. Coach Tony Annese recently left to become coach at Ferris State, a four-year university in Big Rapids, Mich.

"I didn't see it coming, and it is unfair what they did," said Keontae Hollis, a lineman from suburban Detroit who transferred from Arizona Western College. "I worked my butt off to play for this program, and for a lot of guys it was a second opportunity. I don't understand how they can just tear it away from us."

Running back Jeff Anderson said: "They took everything away from us."

Two players in school history took their skills to the NFL: Bob Lurtsma, 1967-77, and Carl Powell, 1997-2005.

Annese said he's "broken-hearted" but understands the reality of school finances. The football program cost $250,000 a year. Some bus trips lasted 19 hours.

"I really believed that Dr. Ender loved football, and he felt for the underprivileged kids who really were a large majority of our team," Annese said, referring to school President Steven Ender. "It came down to resources, and how far you can extend those resources to have a football team."
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Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:Jan 23, 2012
Words:324
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