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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published December 16 2013

Northland Community and Technical College suspends its football program

GRAND FORKS – Northland Community and Technical College on Monday announced that it will suspend its football program effective immediately.

Steve Crittenden, the Northland campus dean, said the college suspended the program for a number of reasons. Northland competes in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference, a league comprised mainly of Minnesota junior colleges.

Crittenden said budget challenges, Title IX issues, housing challenges and the fact that Northland lost its coach last week were the reasons the college suspended the program.

Merle Johnson resigned last week as the Northland coach to become the North Dakota State College of Science coach. Johnson had coached at Northland for the past three seasons.

The Pioneers have been successful in recent sea-sons, finishing 7-3 this past season. Northland ad-vanced to the semifinal round of the MCAC playoffs.

Crittenden said the an-nouncement was made at this time so student-athletes in the Northland program could have time to transfer if they wish. Currently, Crittenden said there are 46 players on the Northland roster. Nine players are from Minnesota.

Northland players were informed of the decision earlier Monday.

“Really ticked off and re-ally upset,” said freshman wide receiver Kade Klasen, who played prep football for the Northern Freeze. “There were 19, 20-year-old football players crying in the hallway. That’s how upset we were. It has been taken from us just like that, like the flip of a switch.

“We had people walk out of the meeting. They were so upset and irate that they couldn’t be in there. We have won three Northern Division championships in the last three years. Now, we are getting cut off and shut down like none of that matters.”

Klasen said he will transfer from the school.

Crittenden said there is no firm timetable on whether the school will consider bringing back the program, adding the college will examine the impact of the decision to determine if the program should be reinstated.