Fort Scott CC Athletic Director speaks on termination of football program

Fort Scott AD Tom Havron comments on the recent termination of the football program.
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Fort Scott Community College announced the termination of its football program on Monday night.

The announcement came just one day after the team’s season ended with a 63-2 loss to Independence in the first round of the KJCCC playoffs.

“It’s been very difficult. It was an extremely emotional decision to have to make,” says Fort Scott CC Athletic Director Tom Havron, “I think the football players and coaches themselves have been very excellent throughout the process, trying to move on and figure out what’s next for them in their athletic, academic and professional careers.”

Havron says there are 91 football players on campus – many who have traveled from across the country to play for the Greyhounds – who are now looking for a new home.

“We have reached out to every single junior college in the Jayhawk Conference and all the athletic directors and I’m coordinating visits with them to come on campus and recruit our kids, and try to find them the next spot,” Havron says, “One student told me that Monday night, he had 40 coaches follow him. That was encouraging to hear. We always are concerned about how this will affect them in a negative way. It was encouraging to see that regional schools were reaching out to them already and trying to get them another opportunity.”

If any of the players choose to stay at Fort Scott Community College, Havron says “We do intend on scholarshipping all of the football players that were a part of this year’s team through graduation. Even if they’re freshmen, we’ll cover two years if they’re interested in coming back. We want to make sure that educational opportunity was not taken from them. We’d like to support them, whether it’s transitioning them to another school or supporting them through their time at Fort Scott.”

Havron was quoted in April in an article from the Butler County Times-Gazette saying “We are not shutting down the football program and do not intend to look into doing so.”

Those comments were made after the program opted to end its spring season after just three games due to “injury and attrition to the roster.”

“Every semester is different in community colleges. Enrollment goes up and enrollment goes down. I truly believed back then that’s where we were at,” Havron says of his comments, “We wanted to maintain that program, and we put in the resources needed to be able to do that. Unfortunately, we’ve had a rough couple of years and it wasn’t sustainable for us to do that. I truly believe we needed to be all in until we couldn’t. That is a large part of where we’re at.”

The football program at FSCC has won just 3 of their last 22 games – but the program has had other issues the last few years outside of wins and losses.

In 2019 under head coach Kale Pick, the team was 4-5 heading into their season finale, before being forced to forfeit their wins after playing an ineligible player. They would finish the season with a win, officially finishing 1-9.

After COVID-19 erased the fall 2020 season, the team was scheduled to play a spring schedule in 2021 under Carson Hunter. After just three games, the team opted to forego the remainder of their schedule, citing “injury and attrition to the roster” as mentioned above.

Tragedy struck the program in August 2021, with the death of player Tirrell Williams. Williams collapsed at practice in early August, before passing away a couple weeks later.

We asked Havron if that incident in August had any effect on Monday’s decision to terminate the program.

“No. It did not,” Havron says, “That was a tragedy. We would prefer not to go much into that, out of privacy and respect for the family. This was a decision that was made on the financial end of things, and the overall sustainability for football for Fort Scott.”

We also asked Havron about unconfirmed allegations from Fort Scott players in an October article and YouTube video – claiming the coaching staff created a hostile environment and unsafe conditions for players.

“There’s a lot out there in terms of social media and…so much that is not factual,” Havron says, “There are things that we have addressed, and then there are things where there isn’t anything to address. We stand behind him,” Havron says of head coach Carson Hunter, “He was incredibly ethical and professional throughout this entire process and this season. He’s a very intelligent young man and he’s going to be a great coach.”

In the release Monday night, the school cited multiple reasons for the decision, including a lack of resources.

We asked Havron to elaborate on whether that was financial resources or staffing resources.

“It’s kind of all of the above,” Havron says, “Football is certainly a very expensive sport. It certainly takes a toll on institutions and budgets more than other sports do. Not just because of the number of students that that program brings in, but also the resources it takes to get every student what they need. It was difficult, but we took a while to be able to look at every single possible situation to see if we could keep this here, and it was just something that was not sustainable.”

Another reason given in the release for the termination of the program was the “changing ethos of football in general.”

“That’s essentially a reference to CTE and the fact there’s not as many kids playing football these days. Even when we go to the high school games, we look at the rosters and they’re just not what they were 10 year ago. The numbers are not as big. There are parents that look at their children and saying when they’re eight or nine that I don’t know this is a path I want to put my kids into. All of that mentality kind of helped create a perfect storm to where we are today.”

The Fort Scott CC football program has been around for nearly 100 years, giving thousands of players, including plenty of local guys, the opportunity to continue their football and academic careers.

We asked Havron what his message is to former players, fans and the Fort Scott Community that has supported the program for a long time.

“We love our football players and our coaches,” Havron says, “We thank the players and coaches who have been here throughout the years. We hope we can maintain a level of support from those alumni who have come to appreciate the experiences they had here at Fort Scott. We are going to continue to provide those same types of experiences for future generations. We’re really looking forward to reconnecting with them and making sure we are providing the safe educational environment that Fort Scott Community College always has.”