Seventy-four years of football history and it is over, Northeastern University announced on November 23 in a public letter that it elected to discontinue its intercollegiate football program.
“Our goal for athletics is to achieve sustainable excellence in all areas,” said Athletic Director Peter Rob. Northeastern football hasn’t had recent success since their 2002 Conference Championship.
After Coach Don Brown left Northeastern in 2004, the school started scheduling Division I powerhouse opponents such as Virginia Tech, Northwestern University, Ball State, and Boston College. Each of these games ended in humiliating defeats and showed how weak the program might be.
Don’t get me wrong, the program certainly has some players such as John Griffin, a local product from Oakmont High School; he finished the year with 715 yards and four touchdowns on an offense that was one of the worst in Division I-AA.
The University said that they will honor all scholarships to current student athletes that stay at the University, and the NCAA has waived the transfer rule for the NU football players (Sitting out one season, after transferring).
This all makes me honestly wonder that if you combine the scheduling of unrealistic opponents and these well thought plans for the student athletes, how long has the university been planning this?
The Huskies played at Parsons Field, known for baseball not NU football. I remember seeing the field for the first time at Northeastern football camp and thinking, “This is it?”. Most Massachusetts high schools and lower division colleges have better facilities, raising the question where was all this money going to that was spent on the football program?
Northeastern spends four million dollars a year on the football program with little to show for it, but I don’t think it was all the players’ and coaches’ fault. Being set up for failure and combining this huge mystery budget, pushed the administration and others against the team.
Northeastern is known for basketball, baseball, and hockey. Along with some other programs that have had recent success, it really proved that the football program was one that could be easily dealt with.
Recently, Matthews Arena received a multi million-dollar renovation. A new roof, new locker rooms, new seats, new press box and a spectacular video scoreboard lead the list of improvements. I understand that Northeastern Hockey is huge and the basketball team in recent years has been very good, but maybe if some of these renovations were scaled down, the football program could have been saved.
Northeastern has had a hidden agenda against the program for the past couple of years and it is just apparent with the decision to drop the program that they truly do not care about this group of young student athletes.
Northeastern isn’t the only wealthy division I-AA University that dropped their football program recently either. Hofstra University, which used to be a powerhouse in the Atlantic 10 and has produced numerous NFL players for a 1-AA program, shut it down on Dec 3rd.
Their reasoning was specifically to take those resources from the football program and reinvest them into academic needs and need-based scholarships. The same options like the players at Northeastern about scholarship fulfillment and transfer waivers are available for the players at Hofstra.
I just hope these players take advantage of the opportunities given to them in the future and don’t let this situation discourage them. Also, I hope it makes student athletes that are not the major recruits to the bigger schools think about how they choose their school. Lower division student athletes have to think about life after football, life after sports, and these programs coming to end really shows that it can happen at any University.