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On Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, the Hofstra University Board of Trustees voted to eliminate the University’s Division I football program, and use those funds to increase need-based scholarships, and strengthen academic offerings. This was a strategic decision to invest University resources in those initiatives that enhance its academic mission.
This is the culmination of a comprehensive review of all university spending to determine the best ways to build upon Hofstra’s successes and reach the highest level of academic excellence, nationally and internationally. The board voted unanimously last night (Wednesday, December 2) to eliminate the football program and reallocate those savings to academic initiatives, in order to further the University’s academic mission. At the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) level, football could not attain significant national recognition, and it has had low student, community and media interest, attendance and financial support. In addition, the football program, the largest of the athletic programs, is by far the most expensive. In the end, we could not continue to justify the expense of football compared to the benefits it brought to the University.
We will increase need-based scholarships, and consider enhancements to a variety of existing programs, including the hard sciences and engineering, as well as investments in new programs such as public health and other health-related fields. Hofstra has made significant strides in the past decade, and academic excellence has been and will continue to be our highest priority. To continue our momentum and strive to become one of our nation’s best institutions of higher education, we must invest in academics and programs in which we can compete at the highest level. It is more essential than ever that we invest our resources wisely, and consider fully how we meet our mission as a university.
The net cost of football is approximately $4.5 million per year, including scholarships. The total net athletic budget, excluding football, is about $18 million annually.
The Board of Trustees reviewed all athletic spending, and has determined that there will be no further cuts to our sports program.
In 2009, for example, the football program sold 172 season tickets, compared to 750 season tickets for men’s basketball. While student attendance at the average football game is about 500, basketball games draw an average of 900 students. We could not continue to justify the expense of football, compared to the benefits it brought to the University.
All 84 players will keep their scholarships if they choose to stay at Hofstra, and we hope that they decide to complete their studies here. But if they want to transfer to continue playing football, we have advisors ready to help them communicate with other institutions and make their transition as easy as possible. Head Coach Dave Cohen’s contract will be honored. We will offer the 11 assistant coaches assistance in finding new positions and support their efforts to move forward.
No. Private donations have not been sufficient to pay for the program. It would be difficult to recruit players and coaches if the program relied solely on private donations.
We looked at those options as part of our total athletics review. Hofstra University’s football team is a Division I Football Championship Subdivision program (FCS). Unlike Football Bowl Championship (FBS) programs, FCS programs cannot compete in national title bowl games. To move into FBS football, Hofstra would have to join a league that sponsored I-A football, average more than 15,000 in paid attendance at games and make an investment in additional scholarships and increased stadium capacity. Moving into Division III is not an option because the NCAA does not permit universities to compete at the Division I level in some sports and at Division III in others.
In the past seven years, the University has more than doubled scholarships, from $26.3 million in 2001-02 to $62.4 million in 2008-09. Of that, approximately $9 million was spent for the equivalent of 208 full-time athletic scholarships. Football is allocated the equivalent of 63 full athletic scholarships totaling $2.8 million. Including football players, there are 400 student-athletes on campus.
While football has long been a part of life at Hofstra, student attendance has rarely been more than a fraction of overall attendance at games, even at Homecoming. We will continue to have a strong and competitive Division I athletic program. We are planning a robust series of activities for Homecoming that may include a concert and other athletic contests.
Hofstra University continues to field competitive Division I teams in 17 sports. They are baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women's tennis, wrestling, and volleyball.
Title IX was not a factor in this decision. Hofstra was, and remains, in compliance with Title IX. However, with the elimination of football, the number of men and women student-athletes more closely mirrors the population of the overall student body.
Football began at Hofstra in 1937 and over 69 seasons (including a four-year suspension during World War II), the team has compiled an overall record of 403 wins, 268 losses and 11 ties. The team has logged 42 winning seasons, and three 500 seasons. In 1991, Hofstra moved up from Division III to Division I, and 2009 was the University’s third in the Colonial Athletic Association.
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