Nihon University said Thursday it will not re-form its American football club, disbanded in the wake of a drug scandal, until at least next year.

The university explained its decision to forgo an application to take part in the 2024 collegiate competition at a meeting of former members of the American football team, which had been renowned as a powerhouse of the sport during its 83-year history.

File photo shows the American football field at Nihon University in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward on Nov. 29, 2023. (Kyodo)

The club was officially disbanded in January after four players came under suspicion of involvement in illegal drugs last year. One was later convicted for illegal drug possession, two were fined for purchasing cannabis, while another had his case dropped.

The university said it would not seek to re-form the club until it can "regain the trust of society and former members can regain trust from both inside and outside the university."

"We can understand the feelings of the students who entered the school with hopes and dreams of participating in the Koshien Bowl, and we regret that this situation has come to pass," the university said in a statement, referring to the national collegiate championship its team had won 21 times.

The team had previously been at the center of another national scandal in 2018 after one of its linebackers injured an opposing player with an illegal hit that he said he made under instruction from coaches.

Two coaches were handed lifetime bans over the incident, while the team was relegated to the second division of its league. The player who delivered the illegal hit reached an out-of-court settlement with his victim.

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