Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y. - Hofstra University's Board of Trustees has decided to eliminate Hofstra's Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, formerly known as Division 1-AA) intercollegiate football program, and reinvest those resources into new academic programs and need-based scholarships, President Stuart Rabinowitz announced today.
The Board, acting on a recommendation from Rabinowitz, voted unanimously to end the football program, effective immediately, at a meeting on Wednesday night. The decision was the culmination of a comprehensive review of all university spending to determine the best ways to build on Hofstra's successes and reach the highest level of academic excellence, nationally and internationally.
"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," 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."
Rabinowitz said there are no plans to cut any other sports. Hofstra will continue to compete in 17 intercollegiate Division I sports, at a national level, as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. "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."
"Athletics is a vital part of campus life, and we are proud of the contributions all our student-athletes make to our community," Rabinowitz said. "This was not an easy call, but for the future of the University, we believe it was the right one."
Marilyn B. Monter, chair of the Board of Trustees, said that the Board had recently concluded a two-year study of the athletic program, and she noted that nationwide, many colleges and universities are examining spending on sports. "Hofstra is not alone in taking a hard look at athletic spending, and we have a concrete plan for reinvestment in academics," Monter said. "This isn't about spending less money, it's about how we allocate our resources and invest in all of our students."
All current football team members who remain at Hofstra will keep their scholarships, and those who transfer will be eligible to play immediately. The football team has 84 student-athletes from 15 states, and 11 coaches. The net cost of the football program is approximately $4.5 million, including scholarships, and the savings generated will be redirected to fund new faculty lines, academic programs and need-based scholarships.
Athletic Director Jack Hayes met with team members and coaches this morning to inform them of the decision and to discuss how the University would assist them during the transition. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the President, he thanked them for their efforts and loyalty to the University.
"My priority is to implement a plan that assists the student-athletes and coaching staff with their efforts to move forward," said Athletic Director Jack Hayes. "We recognize that some team members will choose to complete their degree at Hofstra, and we encourage them to do so. Others may choose to continue their playing careers at other institutions. Whatever their decision, we are here to assist them."
The football team finished this season 5-6, with a 52-38 win over the University of Massachusetts on Nov. 21 at James M. Shuart Stadium. The timing of the decision was made to give team members, prospects and staff a chance to make future plans. The University will honor head football Coach David Cohen's contract, and all assistant football coaches will receive assistance with their job transitions.
Football began at Hofstra in 1937. In 1991, Hofstra moved up from Division III to Division I, and 2009 was the University's third in the CAA.
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution where students can choose from more than 150 undergraduate and 160 graduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, business, communication, education, health and human services and honor studies, as well as a School of Law.