The year was 1975, and The Colorado College football team just capped off their stellar 7-1-1 season with a 42-3 victory over Kansas Wesleyan at Washburn Field, Tiger football’s home for 127 seasons. Under the leadership of Coach Jerry Carle and after posting a 39-4-1 record from the previous five seasons combined, the Tigers found themselves on the verge of their first ever NCAA tournament appearance.
After years of consistency, hard work, and commitment to the program, the Tigers found themselves making history. Rich McDermott, class of ‘76 and enjoying his senior season at the time, recalled the team received a special congratulations, “We actually got a telegraph from Dutch Clark when we made it to the NCAA in 1975.”
Earl “Dutch” Clark graduated from Colorado College in 1930 after becoming the state of Colorado’s first ever All-American football player. He went on to claim six all-pro honors, earning inductions into both the college and professional football halls of fame. When Clark sent the telegram to the 1975 group of Tigers, he had been in the pro hall of fame for over ten years.
Not only did the program enjoy long periods of tremendous success and produce Hall of Famers, but Tiger Football also played its home games on the oldest football field west of the Mississippi, for all divisions, up until the programs cancellation in 2009. With history that runs as deep as it did, no wonder the Washburn Foundation was founded immediately after Tiger Football was cancelled.
Rich McDermott, class of ‘76 and president of the foundation, explained on the Washburn Foundation Facebook page that, “Our mission is to support Colorado College athletics and help to restore the 127 year-old tradition of intercollegiate football.”
The last post on the page was in 2012, the same year the Board of Trustee’s confirmed their decision to table the football team, so the Catalyst wanted to know if anything had changed since then from the foundations perspective. McDermott said that not much had.
“With the current administration, unless we show up with millions of dollars, the program doesn’t have a chance to come back,” McDermott told the Catalyst. He said that from the school’s perspective, they are looking for $10-20 million to endow the program.
He believes friends of the former program “are quite willing to raise that but the college needs to invest in it as well.” So for now, with no support from administration, it seems that the Washburn Foundation will continue to be stalled.
The advocates for the CC football program’s return and those who believe its time to move on are likely to continue to debate. And as they do, each successive year of graduating Tigers will join the Class of 2014 in never gathering at Washburn field on a Saturday afternoon to enjoy a Tiger football game.