Pima College will eliminate its football program starting in 2019 in order to reach mandated budget cuts.

Athletic director Edgar Soto made the recommendation to the Pima County Community College District Governing Board on Wednesday night, and chancellor Lee Lambert approved the recommendation. The upcoming season will be the Aztecs' last.

Soto was ordered to cut more than $500,000 from the budget; Pima's football program costs roughly that much per year to operate. Pima will also eliminate two of its golf and tennis programs, with the decision to be made a later date. 

The Aztecs' football costs would've almost certainly gone up starting in 2019, even had Soto decided to keep football. The Maricopa County Community College District plans to Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and Glendale community colleges. The decision will eliminate many of Pima’s closest and best opponents; to play a competitive schedule starting in 2019, the Aztecs would have had to travel out of state. The travel would be both expensive and time-consuming.

The news couldn’t come at a worse time for Pima, which has been surging under coach Jim Monaco. Six Aztecs signed national letters of intent with major college programs in December; another football player, Tony Fair, recently received an offer from Nebraska.