What was the student-athletes’ role in the decision to cancel the remainder of the current football season?
Grinnell has a long tradition of valuing student voices, and the opinions of the athletes were heavily weighted in this decision. The players themselves voted overwhelmingly to forfeit the remaining seven games of the season prior to the announcement of the cancellation.
Why make this decision now?
We have been looking into the issue of the safety of players for some time, including conducting an epidemiological study and conferring with the conference starting this past May. Our research about health and safety suggests that players are more susceptible to injuries when they are fatigued. Due to injuries on our current squad, our players do not have substitutes so they would be unnecessarily exposed to injury. In addition, in some positions we do not have back-ups/substitute players.
How big has the team been in the past?
During the past 30 seasons Grinnell has fielded a squad with over 50 members six times, and in six seasons the squads have been under 40 players. During the 18 seasons when Grinnell fielded teams with rosters sized between 40-50, there were nine times when the unit was above 45 athletes.
What is Grinnell doing to recruit more players and grow the program?
In the fall of 2016 our squad size fell to the low 30s. At that point the Grinnell College administration began to systematically address issues in the program by enhancing recruiting and coaching efforts. Since that season, two full-time and one half-time positions have been added to the staffing structure. We have seen the fruits of these additions in the recent recruiting class in which we enrolled 15 student-athletes who play football, and the 2019 roster was the largest in five years. Advancing the squad size takes time but getting 15 new members on the team fits with our analysis of what the new positions will do for squad growth.
What is the history of the Grinnell football program?
Grinnell is competing in its 131st football campaign. The team first began play in 1889 when it squared off against the University of Iowa. The last conference championship came for the Pioneers in 1998 when current head coach, Jeff Pedersen, was a starting tight end during his freshman season. He went on to win All-American honors. The Pioneers had their last winning season in 2010 with a record of 6-4 and the squad posted a 5-5 mark in 2011 with Pedersen as the coach.
What does the cancellation mean for the future of the football program?
This decision does not signal any indication of the future of the football program. With 12-15 recruits in the next entering class, the team could get back to competitive play next season.
What is the outlook for the 2020 football season?
We will enter the off-season with the largest group of returning players since the conclusion of the 2013 season.
How diverse is the football team?
Diversity and inclusion is an institutional core value. Grinnell’s football team closely aligns with institutional diversity percentages. It is the most diverse team on campus. Three coaches of color are members of the coaching staff.
What is the current staffing level of the football program?
Since June of 2019, Grinnell is currently supporting its most robust football staffing model in the history of the College. There are five full-time employees on the staff with four of the professionals involved in coaching and recruiting (our baseball coach participates as a field coach but is not involved in recruiting – he recruits for baseball). In addition, the staff supports a half-time position and the coach is involved in all aspects of the program, including recruiting. The program has two volunteer coaches to round out a staff of eight professionals.