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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Long Island Rival Drops Football Program

Stony Brook no longer has to worry about facing Hofstra in the annual football battle of Long Island rivals.

That is because Hofstra football, which began in 1937, is no more.

After organizing a two-year review of the team, the university’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to eliminate the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program, in hopes of redirecting the $4.5 million needed to maintain it towards ‘academic initiatives and need-based scholarships,’ according to Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz.

The move comes just two weeks after fellow Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) member Northeastern University decided to drop its football team, which paints an interesting image for the association come next fall.

School officials cited poor attendance, lack of interest, and high costs as the primary reasons for the move. Despite being offered free tickets, an average of about 500 students attended games at the 13,000-seat James M. Shuart stadium, with the general attendance averaging roughly 4,200 fans. Also, the team sold only 172 season tickets, whereas the Hofstra Pride basketball team more than quadrupled that amount, selling 750 season tickets.

Competing in the FCS, national media interest is scarce, and Hofstra’s mediocre 5-6 record this past season did not guarantee more of it. Despite having sent several players to the National Football League, like former New York Jets standout Wayne Chrebet, lack of national interest has plagued the team for the past few years.

Hofstra University’s athletic department has a budget of $22.8 million, and a $2.8 million chunk of that is for football scholarships. Overall, the team’s annual $4.5 million tab was the most expensive of the athletic programs. ‘In the end, we could not continue to justify the expense of football compared to the benefits it brought to the university,’ added Rabinowitz.

Rabinowitz assured that the university’s 17 other teams are safe, and that the 84 players previously on the football squad will keep their scholarships if they remain students at Hoftstra. However, many of them might transfer to other schools in order to continue playing the sport they love, like redshirt junior linebacker Rashad Swanson.

‘It’s devastating,’ said the San Francisco native in a statement to ESPN, ‘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.’

If they transfer, the players will be able to play right away, instead of sitting out one year as per National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules. One of their destinations could be Stony Brook, being that it is the most competitive program near Hofstra. The Seawolves clinched as co-champions of the Big South on November 21, sitting atop the conference within two years of joining it.

Whatever the players decide to do, Hofstra University will no longer be a football home to them. Rabinowitz stated that priority number one ‘is to work with our student-athletes to ensure that they manage this transition in whatever manner is most comfortable for them.’

He added that cutting the football program was a tough choice that will spell long-term success for the university as a whole.

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