Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hofstra votes to drop football

At the same time Charlotte is in a fundraising drive to add a football program, Hofstra is dropping its team, citing fading interest and the economy.

"The cost of the football program, now and in the future, far exceeds the return possible," Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz said Thursday.

The AP story:

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) – Hofstra University dropped football because of costs and fading interest and will use the $4.5 million spent annually on the team on scholarships and other priorities.

The board of trustees voted unanimously Wednesday night to shut the program, which had been in existence since the school's founding in 1937.

“The cost of the football program, now and in the future, far exceeds the return possible,” Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz said Thursday. He added that despite Hofstra having sent several players to the NFL, the program does not attract enough national attention.

“Given that, along with the low level of interest, financial support and attendance among our students, our alumni and the community, the choice was painful, but clear.”

Rabinowitz noted that even on the Hofstra campus, there was little interest in the team. He said students were offered free tickets to games, but an average of only 500 students attended games at the 13,000-seat campus stadium, and that included cheerleaders and a pep band. Hofstra has a student body of 12,500, but only 4,200 live on campus. The average attendance this season – students and nonstudents – was 4,260.

Rabinowitz said the stadium would still be used for NCAA lacrosse matches, where crowds sometimes top those at football games. It also will be used for high school football playoff games and possibly outdoor concerts.

The decision follows a two-year review of sports spending at Hofstra. Rabinowitz said there are no plans to cut any other sports at the Long Island school.

Last month, Northeastern University in Boston dropped football after 74 years. Northeastern, like Hofstra, plays in the Colonial Athletic Association. Four of the final eight teams left in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs are from the league.

Hofstra was 5-6 overall and 3-5 in the league this season. Northeastern went 3-8, 3-5 in the CAA.

“We know this is a difficult time for our football team members, their dedicated coaches and loyal fans, and we will do everything we can to help them navigate this transition as smoothly as possible,” Rabinowitz said.

He said the 84 players were told of the decision Thursday. All players were told they can keep their scholarships if they remain at the school. Those who transfer will be eligible to play immediately.

“It's devastating,” redshirt junior linebacker Rashad Swanson of San Francisco said. “Football is pretty much our lives here. There's some guys who are thinking about staying. But me, personally, I'm thinking about leaving. I can't be here if I can't play football.”

Keith Ferrara, a junior from Queens, said his teammates were shocked.

“It was the last thing I was expecting them to say,” he said. “I had no idea it was coming. I want to play football, so I'm probably going to transfer out.”

Four former Hofstra players are now in the NFL: Kyle Arrington of New England, Stephen Bowen of Dallas, Willie Colon of Pittsburgh and Marques Colston of New Orleans. One of the best-known Hofstra players to have played in the NFL was receiver Wayne Chrebet of the New York Jets.

“I am both saddened and shocked to hear the news that the Hofstra University football program has ceased,” Colston said. “I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the university, my coaches and my former teammates and I am sure that they share in my disappointment.”

While Hofstra and Northeastern are dropping the sport, 13 new programs have been announced, including six next season.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what Bill Cosby thinks of this? One of my all-time favorite Cosby bits is his account of being a player for Temple in the mid-50s and having to play Hofstra. He said they were the biggest people he had ever seen, they all had just one eye in the center of their foreheads, and the coach was beating them out onto the field with a ball and chain. When Hofstra kicked off, the Temple players were so scared they threw meat at the Hofstra players, and all 11 Temple players were left unconcisous after the kickoff. And of course, that's the same bit where Cosby said he took a handoff and tried to step over a Hofstra guy, who came up and hit him right in the family jewels.

It's a shame the program deteriorated to the point that the only ones who cared were the players.

theallknowingone said...

apples oranges. Charlotte is a public school with 24000 students, projecting to 35000. I can promise you more than 4500 show up. The economy is turning, that is their excuse to drop it, just as Dubois tried to use the economy.

Anonymous said...

You can promise that more than 4500 people will show up? That's still WAY TOOO LOW. UNCC can't even fill Halton Arena with those 25 -35K students, how are they going to fill a football stadium for a team that most likely will have lackluster talent for 10 plus years. The real shows are within 3 hours of Charlotte and consist of teams in the ACC and SEC.

Anonymous said...

Anon you're an idiot. Why don't you check to see what percentage of college basketball arenas are made up of STUDENTS? Charlotte ranks very high as a percentage of student body. Care to guess who is pathetically LOW? Try NC State and North Carolina.

Freedom Huggins said...

I have only gone to like two basketball games in the past decade, but i still purchased a couple of FSL's in anticipation of charlotte football! i think football will actually help the basketball program in the long run. charlotte has been getting shafted for years because simply, nobody knows about the university, even people that live in charlotte! i wish more folk would also follow dubois' lead and discontinue from identifying the university as the abbreviated community college stigma "uncc" and refer to it always as unc charlotte. i never say uncc anymore. even the sports team drop the "unc" all together and call 'em "charlotte 49ners". we've always had an identity crisis. we just need more exposure. i'm thrilled that levine chipped in for the educational scholarships. if we can get more community support, this school will prosper quickly. the school is getting an increased number of quality students because they have more and more students to choose from every year from the surplus in applicants. it's only a matter a time unc charlotte will get it's due. i just hope it doesn't take forever...