Thursday, December 3, 2009

Breaking News: Hofstra Eliminates Football Program

The Hofstra Pride football team's 52-38 victory over Massachusetts on Nov. 21 will be its last as the university chose Thursday to cut the program from its athletic department.

Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz announced at a press conference this morning that after 69 years of competition in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Hofstra will cut funding to the football team.

"This has been a two-year process, and has nothing to do with the win-loss record," said Rabinowitz. "It is a decision made by the Board of Trustees to better use in the long run those resources for academics."

According to Rabinowitz and Hofstra athletic director Jack Hayes, the amount of money that went into the football team, or any team in the Football Championship Subdivision for that matter, far surpassed the revenue it generated for the university.

The decision was announced just 11 days after Northeastern University, also a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, decided to shut down its' football program after 74 years. According to Rabinowitz and Hayes, though, Northeastern's actions did not play any role in their decision.

The resources saved will be put towards making the university more affordable to students in need. There is $2.8 million in scholarships awarded annually that will now be available to offer to other students as academic awards and grants.

Despite the rich tradition of Hofstra football, and a handful of alumni in the NFL, Rabinowitz says the board examined every part of the budget, including athletics, which they hadn't looked at in some time.

"We want to play at the highest level of every sport we are playing in," Rabinowitz said. "We even looked into making the jump to the Football Bowl Subdivision, but we would have to renovate the stadium, and nobody was inviting us to join a conference, so to be a 1-A independent was not feasible."

"The branding we want is 'Hofstra University: Highest quality in everything, but academics first,' " said Rabinowitz.

Athletic director Hayes met with both head coach Dave Cohen and the members of the 2009 team, who finished 5-6 to discuss the board's decision.

"We know it's hurtful to players and coaches," said Hayes. "But we are doing everything we can to make this as appropriate a situation as we can for those involved."

Hofstra players that choose to stay at the school will still be granted the scholarships they were promised when they enrolled. Hayes also said that he will aid any players that will look to transfer to other schools to continue their football career.

Read Rabinowitz's full statement.

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