Gallaudet College in Northeast Washington has canceled its entire 1980 football schedule because of lack of player interest.
"We very much regret that this action is necessary, and we hope that the suspension is limited to one year," said John S. Schuchman, college vice president, in a memorandum to students, faculty and staff.
Director of Athletics Joseph Fritsch said he had no explanation for the low football turnout where practice attendance varied between 18 and 30 players. It is generally considered that a viable football program requires at least 40 players at the college level.
Fritsch said a committee of faculty, students and alumni is being formed to examine the lack of interest in the football program at Gallaudet, the largest liberal arts college for the deaf in the world. The committee will be headed by Don Padden, a member of the physical education faculty.
In his memorandum, Schuchman said the college's athletic council accepted the recommendation of the coaches and physical education department that the football program be canceled because the small number of players involved increased the likelihood of serious injury.
"I personally wish to thank all those young men and coaches who turned out for football," said Schuchman. "Their personal commitment under these frustrating circumstances represents an excellent foundation for the future of football at Gallaudet College."
It was at Gallaudet where the football huddle originated in the early part of the century. Communicating with each other in sign language, the Gallaudet players devised the huddle to prevent their opponents from learning their plans for the next play. Eventually that tactic was adopted by other football teams.
Despite cancellation of the football program, Gallaudet's homecoming weekend will be held as scheduled on Oct. 25. A soccer match will supplant the previously scheduled football game as the athletic centerpiece of the weekend.
Gallaudet had scheduled an eight-game season this year. Last year, the team was 1-7.