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The Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton played JUCO football. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Troubling financials, negative press and NCAA rules have put the future of junior college football (or JUCO) on shaky ground. Several programs have shut down in recent years, and the fear is that this trend will continue.

Why it matters: Junior college football has long been a lifeline for players who might have otherwise fallen through the cracks, while also serving as a farm system for Division I's top programs.

  • Four junior college players have gone on to win the Heisman (Cam Newton, O.J. Simpson, Roger Staubach, Mike Rozier), and eight participated in Super Bowl LIII. Aaron Rodgers played JUCO ball. So did Alvin Kamara.
  • An estimated 800 JUCO players join FBS programs each year, with about one-fifth of them joining Power 5 schools. Perennial powerhouse Oklahoma, for instance, has signed 18 JUCO players over the last five years.

What's happening: Junior colleges face significant hurdles just to stay afloat, and those hurdles have gotten higher in recent years.

  • Dwindling financial support is putting cash-strapped schools even deeper in the red. Itawamba Community College in Mississippi spent $666,806 on football in 2016-17 but only made $17,346 in ticket sales — the program's only revenue source.
  • New FBS transfer rules mean that players who would have previously transferred to JUCO are transferring to other D-I schools, instead. 
  • A negative perception of JUCO culture has been made infinitely worse by Netflix's Last Chance U. The Hard Knocks-esque show focuses on the drama and, thus, doesn't tell the full story. It has also been mired in controversy.

What's next: A class action lawsuit is being filed that could lead to the reinstatement of one of the recently shuttered programs, and plenty of administrators and coaches across the country are working to fix the system.

The bottom line: Junior college football is devouring itself. Fewer programs mean more travel. More travel means less money. And less money means less football.

Go deeper: America's Olympians might unionize

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life. The 11 charges she faces have been widely criticised as politically motivated.

5 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."