Florida Lawmaker Pushes for Community College Football

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Florida House Rep. Bob Henriquez, a high school football coach, says he wants more young men to have a shot at playing college football.

"We're talking about access and opportunity for 60 to 80 young men that otherwise may not go to college or continue their dream of playing college ball. That's what this is really about," said Henriquez, who is pushing for the state to lift the ban prohibiting community colleges from having football programs.

Students on the campus of Tallahassee Community College have mixed reactions.

"The reason I'm coming here and not FSU is I can save money on tuition. Having a football team would raise my tuition and completely ruin the point of me coming to a community college," says TCC student Richard Barnard.

Meanwhile, TCC student Kimmus Jones thinks lifting the ban would be a positive move.

"I have a lot of friends who missed the opportunity to play at schools like FAMU and FSU. This will give them an opportunity," says Jones.

TCC President Bill Law says, "A football team would add nothing to the mission of the school."

And then there's that issue of who to play!

Of the 17 states with community college football programs, closest to us is Georgia with one program. Mississippi has 14 community college football programs. California has more than 200, but none are members of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

"If you start a football team then you've got to do a count of those players, just like they do at all levels, and that means you've got to come up with some more female sports and that's tough," says Charles Smith with the Florida Community College Activities Association, who estimates the cost to start a football program at a community college between$200,000 and $300,000.

Morris Steen, President of North Florida Community College in Madison, Florida, says "It would be extremely expensive to fund a football program."

The Florida Council of Community College Presidents met Thursday to discuss this issue.