After forfeiting a game in September and another on Saturday due to a short of players, Occidental College announced Wednesday it has canceled the remainder of its football season.
"A decision of this magnitude was not made lightly," Occidental College president Jonathan Veitch said in a statement. "No one wanted or expected the season to end this way. Making this decision now provides needed clarity to players, their parents, coaches, and other SCIAC members. After canceling two of our first five games because of a depleted roster, including last weekend's Homecoming game, the need to address the viability of the season became unavoidable."
According to D3Football, Occidental was down to around 35 players, including one healthy defensive lineman.
The Tigers were 0-3 in games they were able to play this season, falling 61-6 to Puget Sound in the opener, 72-13 against Redlands on Sept. 30, and 37-0 to Clarement-Mudd-Scripps on Oct. 7. Occidental had four games ahead on the schedule, including a game Saturday at Pomona-Pitzer.
"With regard to the future of Tiger football, this decision allows us to turn our full attention to next season as the college works toward rebuilding the roster," he said.
Occidental hired Rob Cushman as head coach on Aug. 1; he was previously the head coach at Minnesota-Morris.
"This decision falls hardest on our players and coaching staff, whose competitive spirit has never waned. I want to commend first-year Oxy head coach Rob Cushman for his character and grit, having been thrust into the most challenging of circumstances this season," Veitch said. "His players have demonstrated the same resilient, never-say-die attitude. I ask that we all lend our support and appreciation to these members of the Oxy community. We also regret the inconvenience this has caused to our fellow SCIAC members who have been most supportive."
The Los Angeles-based school competes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The conference has not answered questions to D3Football about how the canceled games would be handled in the conference standings.
Update: According to the Occidental Weekly, an anonymous party has filed a Title IX complaint with Occidental College and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights alleging that, "Director of Athletics Jaime Hoffman and the department of athletics hold an anti-male bias that has compromised the football team and its players’ reputation." The complaint was filed earlier this month, before the season was canceled.
The claim centers on a lack of support for the football program by Hoffman, which was supported by the higher-ups at the university, and a "history of unpleasant interactions" with Hoffman.
“A lot of the players on the team bought their own helmets, because they didn’t feel the helmets that were being provided were adequate,” wide receiver Carlton O’Neal told the Weekly. “I know my high school, which had more players [than Occidental], had far better equipment, helmets and shoulder pads.”