It first came to our attention Friday morning that we weren’t the only ones on Long Island scratching our heads as to why there would be no more college football played at Hofstra University. I had been on the CAA Media Conference all Thursday afternoon where Tom Yeager had given his statement as “the Commish” of the conference. As nice of a man as he is, it didn’t seem like he was all that broken up about this or felt the need to do too much damage control. He probably didn’t know anything on Saturday the 21st of November, as the Pride were taking it to The Minutemen of U Mass.(Final score of The Pride’s last game in recorded history-52-38 Hofstra, and it wasn’t even as close as the score indicated!)
I am usually on one of two Long Island Railroad trains in the morning each weekday. On each train I have “regular” cronies I stand with on the platform and ride into Penn Station. We always talk football, whether it’s of the pro variety or about local college programs like Hofstra & Stonybrook. It wasn’t easy to answer my travel friends questions regarding the announcements of the day before. “So why did Hofstra kill off football?” one of them asked me. I still can’t figure out why either, except that there is an 800 pound university president In the house, and he stole the presents out from under the tree, or menorah.
Then I get an e-mail this past weekend about an alumni who is also a former player and he wants answers. So through an e-mail I get connected to Brad Gerstman, a former prosecutor who is now a partner at Gotham Government Relations. It seems he isn’t the only one. About 40 other former Hofstra football players who are now successful businessmen want answers as to why this was done. Why was Hofstra football taken out back and shot? “We are requesting restitution of the football program” said Mr. Gerstman. “Mr. Rabinowitz and the board of trustees are caretakers of the university, not its owners” Indeed, Hofstra may well be a private university, but it receives public funding from the state of New York, as well as the generosity of alumni like Mr. Gerstman and many other former players. Some of them are current or former NFL players.
So fast forward to yesterday, and I’m at a press conference at the Public House on Manhattan’s east side. “It just seems like this was done under the cover of darkness” said Chris Colozizielro, class of 1991, who took the podium after Gerstman. “Why would you want to shut down a program that has produced NFL players like Wayne Cherbet. Marques Colston, and Willie Colon?” he asked. I can’t see the reason behind that either. Sure, we all understand the reality of the current economic times. But the university isn’t hurting so much for money, as it wanted to “re-allocate” funding to give scholarships to ‘the needy,” and to help get the medical school up and running. So none of the football players were needy? Someone should have gone over the hardships the freshman running back Miguel Maysonet had been through while attending Riverhead H.S. He was only the MVP of the 2009 Outback Steakhouse H.S. All Star Game, which by the way, is played at Shuart Stadium, Where the Pride would have been playing their 2010 season if someone hadn’t stolen their program by re-allocating funds.
In fact, as recently as a month ago, the alumni fundraisers were still looking for donations to the program. Coaches were out recruiting as recently as last Monday. “No options were ever discussed” the press conference went on. “We clearly understood that this president does not support athletics”
“Every college understands the value of a football program.” Except for this one. Jon Camera from the class of 1995 also spoke. “We gave whatever we could financially whenever we were asked…as well as mentoring current students.”
So we see that this fight is far from over. We may never get all the answers either, but this is another story that we will “Dig Deeper” Into.
Mostly I feel bad for the Maysonets, the Steve Probsts, and the Joe Sidarises of the team. All three could still have promising careers at the next level. But they won’t be known for having played in Hempstead, but rather for having transferred somewhere else.
I also feel for coach Dave Cohen. There are a few quality men in this business, but few could be thought of as your second (or only) father. Cohen is that man. If I had ever gotten to play college football, I’d have wanted my coach to be like Cohen.