Eleven former junior college football players are suing Maricopa County Community Colleges in federal court, alleging that racial discrimination was behind the shuttering of the schools' football programs last year.
In February, the Maricopa County Community College District announced that was closing down its four junior college football programs at the end of the season -- in Glendale, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa -- citing financial problems, among other issues.
The players' lawsuit, filed in Phoenix, says they accepted the scholarships as a means to further their education, with the goal of gaining admission to a four-year college, according to the Arizona Republic. But ending the football programs may put those hopes out of reach, the lawsuit says.
The players are asking the federal judge to reverse the football program’s cancellation, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution and the Civil Rights Act, the Arizona Republic reported. The majority of Maricopa County’s junior college football players are African-American, and the lawsuit alleges the players have faced the “indignity of discrimination” and have been forced to deal with “severe anxiety about their future,” according to the Arizona Republic.
The decision by the Maricopa County Community College District had a major impact, with other junior college football programs in the state forced to reevaluate their own programs viability and, in some cases, deciding to shut them down, too.
Pima Community College, Arizona Western College and Eastern Arizona College announced they would follow Maricopa County's lead.