A return for the Cabrillo College football program looked all but hopeless after it was placed on a two-year probation due to a violation for housing out-of-area players.
But in a turn of events, the school’s governing board elected to reinstate the program in a unanimous vote during Monday night’s meeting.
“Football is important to having a strong athletic department,” Cabrillo Athletic Director Mark Ramsey said. “The way that it brings in a community, the number of athletes that it supports … it’s just something that can’t be matched.”
Trustee Christina Cuevas made the motion to bring back the program, while Felipe Hernandez seconded the motion.
The team will return in the fall of 2022.
“I think that it’s a vital program and that we continue to have it here at Cabrillo,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said he was a bit surprised that the vote was unanimous to reinstate, especially after he heard the motion was in danger of not passing. But, he now believes it was the public’s input that convinced trustees to change their minds.
The thought of losing student-athletes to neighboring colleges in San Jose, Gilroy, Salinas and Monterey also played a key factor in the board’s decision.
Hernandez, who attended Cabrillo, said that the number of people who show up to watch the games is good for the local economies.
“It’s a win-win for everyone: the college, students and the community,” he said.
In March of 2020, the board suspended the program, which was then placed on a two-year probation for a California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) rules infraction.
Cabrillo self-reported the violation to the CCCAA after a report revealed that an assistant coach, who was under former head coach Darren Arbet, signed multiple apartment leases to help secure housing for out-of-area players.
Ramsey helped form a Program Viability Review Committee, which then launched a research project to highlight what works and what doesn’t for the football program.
“It was a lot of good work that was done and eye opening,” Ramsey said.
The committee submitted an 88-page report to school president Matthew Wetstein in March. Ramsey said it took an overall look at how they can support their student athletes and give them the right tools to be successful.
He noted that some issues might be easier than others, but there’s still the food and housing insecurity that many college students continue to face.
“It’s not specific to football, it’s not specific to athletics,” he said. “It’s just students in general and it’s tough. But there are things that we could do better.”
Hernandez, who was born and raised in Watsonville, said some of the mistakes made were the overaggressive recruitment. He said he likes the idea of monitoring out-of-area players by keeping a cap, which means having no less than 20% of the players on the roster be local.
He also called Cabrillo a feeder school that brings in a lot of talent from Santa Cruz County high schools.
“That way we do keep it local from the Central Coast,” he said. “That’s what the program was intended to do and we should keep it that way.”
It’s been more than a year since the Seahawks took the field against Monterey Peninsula College on Nov. 30, 2019 in the Living Breath Foundation Bowl at Rabobank Stadium in Salinas.
Ramsey said the next step is putting together another committee to help guide the development of the football program and having some oversight. After that they’ll put together a hiring committee, open up the head coaching position and bring someone in by January so they can start recruiting for the 2022 season.
“I’m just really appreciative that the vote went the way it did and that they saw the benefit of having football at Cabrillo,” he said.