JUCO athletics absorbing cuts of teams, programs

Economic woes and education belt-tightening have forced dozens of two-year colleges to cut or suspend teams and even entire athletic programs in the past couple of years.

The plight of JUCO athletics attracts far fewer headlines than the postseason payouts and burgeoning TV contracts of major schools and conferences.

But in Alabama alone, Northwest-Shoals and Bevill State announced in March that they would drop athletics starting in the fall. Jefferson State axed softball and baseball and Gadsden State cut four of its six varsity sports.

In California, about 40 teams have been dropped or suspended in the past two years.

Mississippi community colleges have dropped 10 teams, and a system in St. Louis has more than halved its number by consolidating among the three schools that have sports.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)