In an e-mail message sent out to the Hofstra University community earlier today, our president, Stuart Rabinowitz, announced the end of Hofstra’s intercollegiate football program. We were a Football Championship Subdivision school, not a Bowl Subdivision school, and football was not a money maker for us. Still, this can’t have been an easy decision. A lot of people (players, coaching staff, and fans at all levels) invest all sorts of emotions in college and university football teams — most of the time, more so than in other sports — and many of them are very upset right now. We’ve now joined Northeastern, also a Football Championship Subdivision school that (just last month) chose to end its football program.
The president’s decision, which had the full support of the board, came after a two-year review of the sports programs at Hofstra. Shutting down football affects no other sports programs, and the money saved is not being cut from the overall budget. Instead, the $4.5-million annual football budget will be redirected toward need-based scholarships and academic initiatives. In a time when the economy compels individuals and institutions alike to reexamine how and where money is spent, the president’s decision strikes me as good and just.
Perhaps, you’re thinking, Laurie holds this opinion simply because she’s a woman and is not particularly interested in college football games to begin with. You’re right on that one. But the truth is that I watch a lot of football — only I watch pro games. During football season, I watch at least one pro game just about every week. What I’ve always objected to with college football is the charade of it all — particularly, the charade of Bowl Subdivision schools offering up their “scholar-athlete” football players as entertainment for couch-potato-ing, illegally betting, rah-rah-ing Americans who don’t for a second care whether or not football adversely affects the mission of a particular school, or whether it’s good for the players and their futures, or whether it fits with the goals of higher education in general.
Moreover, I find the NCAA “football exception” to Title IX to be a perversion of the intent of the law. Football ravenously eats up huge amounts of money, and whether or not it’s a money maker (even in Bowl Subdivision schools, I’m told, it’s not clear that it always is), it offers nothing — I repeat, nothing — to undergraduate women. President Rabinowitz’s decision makes Hofstra more fully in accord with the spirit and meaning of equity in men’s and women’s sports.
The economy is compelling individuals and institutions alike to reexamine how and where money is spent, and to make sure it’s spent wisely. Our President was instrumental in bringing last year’s final presidential debate to Hofstra, which was an expensive venture that made sense because it reinforced our higher mission of helping our students become educated citizenry. It also advertised, to our students and to the country, that Hofstra is dedicated to this purpose. This most recent decision to end the football program reinforces that mission yet again. President Rabinowitz has just demonstrated grace under pressure, and for this I thank him.