/notables/2017/02/maranatha-baptist-drops-football

Maranatha drops its football program

More news about: Maranatha Baptist
Scenes such as this, with a small number of people on the sidelines, have been a staple for Maranatha Baptist football.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
 

Maranatha Baptist University has announced the end of the Sabercats football program, effective immediately. The 2016 season is the last in its 46-year history. 

Maranatha's lasts

Game: Nov. 12 vs. Minnesota-Morris, L, 38-13
Play: Jonah Bueltel completed a pass for 3 yards to Luke Holloway on third-and-16.
Tackle: Jedidiah Marsh, approx. 3:00 left
Score: Bueltel 68-yard TD run, 13:25 left in fourth quarter
Win: Oct. 29, 2016, 34-18 vs. Trinity Bible
Win vs. D-III opponent: Sept. 3, 2016, 20-3 at Martin Luther 

The decision to discontinue the program was made following the resignation of coach Nate Spate, which triggered a comprehensive evaluation of the program by the athletics department. Through the pre-established program evaluation process, the department met with key stakeholders, gathered documentation related to recruiting, safety, and sustainability of the program, and reviewed the handling of similar challenges faced at peer institutions.

"It's a very small school even by Division III terms. Keeping the program afloat was always a challenge," D3football.com senior editor Keith McMillan said earlier this week on the D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast. "And once you're not in a conference, that adds another challenge in that you don't have eight or nine games built into your schedule, so it consumes a lot of the coaches' time."

You can hear more analysis of the decision, which was alluded to in the January podcast, by listening to the archive starting around the 10:00 mark.

The department's report resulted in the unanimous recommendation of the athletics committee and was then accepted by Maranatha's executive council with the support of the Board of Trustees. According to MBU athletic director Rob Thompson, the decision was made primarily for the well-being and safety of the student-athletes, with additional consideration given to recruiting challenges, eroding constituent support of football in general, and declining player retention.

Maranatha started this past season with 54 players in training camp, one of the smallest rosters in Division III football. In 2014, the program cancelled a number of its scheduled games because it could not field a team. This past season, however, the team finished 3-7, its best mark since 2011.

"The fact is," said Matt Davis, executive vice president of MBU, "several of our former competitors -- regional colleges our size -- have eliminated their football programs which has left us traveling farther distances to play larger schools. Added to that dynamic is the fact that 80-plus percent of MBU students come from Christian schools and home schools in the midwest that do not play high school football. These external realities beyond our control have greatly hampered the Sabercats' ability to build a sustainable roster large enough to safely meet the unique demands of football."

The most recent area Division III schools to drop football were Blackburn and Principia, following the 2008 season. The school was also removed from the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference following the 2012-13 school year and has been competing as an independent since. This season, only Finlandia and Washington U. will compete as independents, and Wash U joins the CCIW in 2018.

"When I became the president in 2010, we recognized that the football program was struggling to remain viable," said Marty Marriott, Maranatha president. "Since that time, we have devoted substantial resources to shore up the program including the hiring of two outstanding head coaches to lead the program. Coach Andy Peterson, and most recently coach Nate Spate worked tirelessly with their players to build upon the solid foundation of retired coach Terry Price in developing the character of the young men who play football at MBU. I thank God for the permanent legacy of godliness these men have built into their players through the game of football."

"Certainly, no one enjoys witnessing the end of a program, especially those who have personally invested their time, talent and effort in the program," Thompson said. "While we understand the short-term impact is uncertain, we know that this decision was the right one to make.

"The history and culture of football is unique, and it will be missed. That being said, our future is focused on our strengths and our ability to sustain safe and viable intercollegiate athletic teams.

"This has been the most difficult decision that we have faced during my tenure as athletic director," Thompson said. "But we understand that God opens and closes doors of opportunity."

Oct. 13: All times Eastern
Final
Bridgewater State 24, at Mass-Dartmouth 22
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at UW-Whitewater 21, UW-La Crosse 14
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Oct. 14: All times Eastern
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Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
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Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
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at Thomas More 59, Waynesburg 7
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at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
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at Finlandia 27, Trinity Bible 21
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Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
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at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
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at Olivet 47, Albion 26
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at Wesleyan 41, Bates 23
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Union 27, at Rochester 0
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Amherst 40, at Colby 7
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at Western New England 41, Endicott 14
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at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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Final - OT
at Plymouth State 16, Framingham State 13
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at RPI 27, Ithaca 14
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Hobart 49, at Hartwick 27
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at Ferrum 34, LaGrange 20
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at Carnegie Mellon 42, Geneva 27
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Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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DePauw 26, at Denison 17
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at Trine 42, Kalamazoo 7
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at Washington and Lee 47, Guilford 26
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at Husson 49, Castleton 0
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Gallaudet 35, at Alfred State 19
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at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Brevard 41, at Methodist 17
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at Lebanon Valley 31, Stevenson 24
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Buffalo State 24, at St. Lawrence 21
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at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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at Randolph-Macon 52, Emory and Henry 29
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at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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at Hampden-Sydney 58, Apprentice 28
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Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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at N.C. Wesleyan 45, Greensboro 0
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at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Grove City 27
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Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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at Westminster (Mo.) 56, Crown 15
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 29, Iowa Wesleyan 7
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at Knox 56, Grinnell 14
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at Widener 31, Lycoming 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 23, at Tufts 16
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at Mount St. Joseph 66, Earlham 7
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Ohio Northern 27, at John Carroll 20
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Baldwin Wallace 23, at Muskingum 20
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at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Rose-Hulman 44, at Manchester 13
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at Hanover 31, Bluffton 28
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Defiance 45, at Anderson 0
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at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Hiram 62, at Kenyon 56
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Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Williams 27, at Middlebury 26
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at Westfield State 33, Fitchburg State 21
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Marietta 43, at Wilmington 33
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at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Curry 40, at Becker 0
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TCNJ 20, at Rowan 14
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at SUNY-Maritime 51, Anna Maria 15
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Salisbury 28, at Montclair State 10
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at Huntingdon 28, Maryville (Tenn.) 16
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at Austin 33, Millsaps 19
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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at Washington U. 55, Buena Vista 20
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Alma 27, at Aurora 19
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at Rockford 29, Concordia-Chicago 14
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Wisconsin Lutheran 22, at Concordia (Wis.) 19
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at Lakeland 57, Benedictine 21
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at St. Norbert 10, Chicago 0
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Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
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Bethel 24, at Gustavus Adolphus 3
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St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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at Eureka 30, Greenville 19
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Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
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Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Central 30, at Coe 19
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Lake Forest 56, at Cornell 28
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at Carthage 31, Elmhurst 8
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at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
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Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
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MacMurray 49, at Minnesota-Morris 13
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Macalester 21, at Lawrence 18
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at Monmouth 59, Illinois College 14
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at UW-Stevens Point 26, UW-Eau Claire 3
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Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
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Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
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at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
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UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
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at Hope 22, Adrian 3
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Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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Cancelled
La Verne at Occidental
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Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
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at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
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at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
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Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
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at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
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Final
at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
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Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
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Final - OT
at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
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at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
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Southwestern 60, at Belhaven 31
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Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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at Louisiana College 52, McMurry 34
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at Simpson 38, Luther 17
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at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
Video Video Box Score Recap Recap
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Recap Box Score
Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
Box Score Recap Live stats
Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
Video Box Score
Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
Video Box Score
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Recap Box Score