(3TV/CBS 5) - A group of former Maricopa Community College District football players are suing the district and board members.

An attorney for the players said he believes the college's decision to shut down the football program was fueled by discrimination.

"When I found out they were shutting down the program, I was like all sports? They were like, no, just football, and I was like 60 percent of the team is African American, and that's a lot of opportunities being taken away from people who probably need it," said former Mesa Community College football player Xavier Juniel.

Juniel said he relied on his football scholarship to pay for school.

"Puts me in a tough spot," said Juniel. "I've been really stressed lately because I have to find a place to go."

Juniel said his scholarship covers this semester, but next school year he's out of luck.

Attorney Phillip Austin represents the players.

"The percentages of black athletes that are negatively affected is 10 times greater than white students in the district," said Austin. "When a policy has such a negative impact it must be justified by business validations."

He said the U.S. Civil Rights Act prohibits all recipients of federal contracts or grants to not discriminate in the distribution of services, including education services.

"Maricopa Community Colleges District is under the jurisdiction of this act," said Austin. "The action of the district in eliminating the football programs is detrimentally affected, we believe, black student athletes in ways that are aren’t affecting non-African American athletes in violation of the US Civil Rights Act."

He said the law required substantiated reasons to eliminate the program because it affects many in a minority group.

"They first say the program is too costly when reports indicate the program really pay for themselves or is a one percent cost to the district," said Austin.

Austin said he has evidence proving board members discriminated against some groups.

"The board did not want to continue football for political, personal reasons," said Austin. "Plus, we have emails in the lawsuit that reflect a racial animus of some of the board members where they attack programs only including racial minorities Muslims, Latinos, so we believe there is some racial animus for this decision."

The Director of Communications for Maricopa Community Colleges District said no one has been served yet.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Recommended for you