Bellevue Community College has become Bellevue College, but don’t look for new sports teams. BC is not getting a football team or a men’s tennis team any time soon and budget cuts are having more of an effect than the new name.
When asked if the college’s name change would have any effect on athletics, Bill O’Connor said, “Not right now.” The head of the athletics department went on to say that BC would continue to follow the rules for two-year schools, which means the college will remain a member of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC), which does not include football.
If at least eight schools in NWAACC formed football teams then it could be an option for BC, said O’Connor, but without any teams in this area, any potential team would have to travel out of state to play. The cost of travel makes this a bad option, especially with the current budget problems. O’Connor said he doubts eight schools will form teams soon.
As for men’s tennis, the Bulldogs had a team and won the NWAACC championship more than once. However, the college dropped the team because of lack of interest, said O’Connor. Jason Chapman, the coach of the women’s tennis team, has approached O’Connor about starting a men’s team but with the current budget cuts, there are no plans to form one, said O’Connor.
Budgets weren’t always this tight. In 1946, nine community colleges formed the Washington State Junior College Athletic Conference, which later became the NWAACC. By 1974, football, basketball, baseball, tennis, track, golf, wrestling, soccer and cross-country were all part of the organization’s early establishment.
NWAACC still has all of the original sports, except football. The schools “one by one dropped football for economic reasons,” said O’Connor. Once there were too few schools to play a good tournament, NWAACC stopped having football.
For now, if you want to play football at the college, you can take the flag football class. Peter Prescott, a part-time physical education (PE) instructor, said that while the PE department is facing cuts, he isn’t aware of any planned cuts in classes.
Among four-year schools, large and expensive athletics departments are common. According to the BC athletic department website, athletics can help draw students to BC. This helps BC by bringing in more money.
When BC starts to offer more four-year degrees than two-year degrees, the athletics department will have to decide if the college still belongs in the NWAACC, said O’Connor.
Correction: An earlier version of this article was incorrectly attributed to Zachary Burnham. The article was, in fact, written by Zachary Burns.