Emerging Trend? Hofstra Cancels Football Program.

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Long Island, New York’s Hofstra University isn’t exactly a powerhouse when it comes to college football. The Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program – formerly known as 1-AA – hasn’t lit up the field in years. Still, the Flying Dutchmen program was large enough program to produce some decent athletes including most recently the New York Jet’s one time wide receiver, Wayne Chrebet.

college footballAlas, this season was the final one for the football team. Its eleven coaches and the eighty-four students on scholarship did not know that when they knocked off UMass 52-38 on November 21st,, effectively ending Hofstra’s string of fielding football teams since 1937.

Financial Decision

The decision to cancel the seven decade old Hofstra gridiron program boiled down to one thing: money. Costing the school $4.5 million annually to operate, the school’s board believed that the money could be best used elsewhere.

“As we continue to improve our academic programs and reputation, and plan the University’s future, we have to consider the investment we make in all of the University’s programs,” university president Stuart Rabinowitz said. “The cost of the football program, now and in the future, far exceeds the return possible from an FCS program, which does not generate significant national interest. 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.”

“In the long run,” Rabinowitz said, “we can touch and improve the lives of more students by investing in new and enhanced academic initiatives and increasing funds for need-based scholarships.”

Transfer or Stay

Affected student athletes will be able to finish their time at Hofstra on scholarship or they can transfer to another school and play immediately instead of sitting out the customary one year under NCAA rules.

By ending the football program, Hofstra has promised to keep its other 17 programs active and will remain part of the Colonial Athletic Association, its varsity league. The university says that the savings generated by canceling football will be redirected to fund new faculty lines, academic programs and need-based scholarships.

Will other schools follow Hofstra’s lead? On the FCS level and lower, look for that to happen, but for healthy BCS schools, it’ll be business as usual.

However, some schools may abandon one level of playing and drop down to Division III where costly athletic scholarships are not offered. This trend is likely to become all the more common as colleges redirect their resources to cover academic programs.

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