Yavapai College Athletic Director Brad Clifford made the toughest speech of his short tenure thus far, when he announced the decision to forfeit the 2014 season of Yavapai College softball. The announcement came in the Walraven Gym lobby in front of players, family, friends, fans, and Yavapai College administration.
The team roster had been reduced to nine players due to a combination of academic ineligibilities, injuries, transfers, family issues, and team rule violations.
Brad Clifford addressed the somber crowd that had gathereed saying, "We do not believe it is right to enter a 50 plus game schedule with a minimum number of players, some who are recovering from injuries themselves. Foremost in our thinking, is the quality and national prominenece of our athletic programs. In light of this tradition, we believe that this is the right decision."
As Clifford spoke some of the players could be seen wiping away tears as they saw their season come to an abrupt end.
"This has happened in a matter of days. It was a culmination of a lot of things," said Clifford.
He said that he had spoken to the players and their parents so that they were aware of the situation.
When asked how will this impact recruiting? Clifford responded, "We have signed five payers already in addition to the other players being recruited at this time. Encouraging them to stay with Yavapai College. All scholarship players who stay on at Yavapai College will keep their scholarships. They will not lose a year of eligibility, if they decide to stay this year."
When asked if he could see this coming down the road. Clifford said, He did not forsee this by any means."
The decision means that the softball team may not be eligible for next years playoffs. The ACCAC, (Arizona Community College Athletic Conference), meetings to discuss this will be held March 4 and 5.
The only applause garnered was after Tom Gammill spoke of recognition to the players in attendance saying, "As volunteer and a long time member of the community, you guys are the heroes. You did everything in the classroom, and everything on the field. You should be commended for that. Thank you."
Clifford went on to say, " The complex ramifications of this decision on the players, coaches, college, team supporters and future seasons demand that we discuss and evaluate all aspects thoughtfully before we announce any other decisions or developments."
The Roughriders softball team finished last season at 36-19, which included their sixth straight appearance in the post season. Two of those seasons, 2009 and 2011, included national championships.
This is not the first time the softball program has not played. Yavapai College started the softball program in 1974, was discontinued in 1982, but reinstated in 2008. To go along with the two national championships, the program has made six World Series appearances, has won four Regional Championships, four ACCAC Championships, has produced 22 All Americans, 23 All Region Selections, 34 All Conference players, and placed 14 in Division I and II programs.
When asked about the coaching staff, Clifford said, "We have not made a decision yet."
Roughriders second year coach Terri Knecht, was not at the press conference and not available for comment.
Wayne Bolls summed up the day best when he told me, "This is another sad day for Yavapai College."