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Former Cardinals’ Opponent Stops Their Program

Remember Northeastern? You know… the first win of the magical 2008 season that started it all out? I hope you got pictures of it, because that’s the last time Northeastern will be venturing from Boston to Muncie. In fact, Northeastern won’t be venturing anywhere anymore, because as of today their football program is no more. Via CBSSports

BOSTON — Northeastern University is ending its football program after 74 seasons because the investment required to make it competitive was too high.

The school announced the decision Monday after president Joseph Aoun and the board of trustees endorsed on Friday the recommendation by athletic director Peter Roby after a two-year review of the Boston school’s sports programs.

Roby said an investment of “tens of millions of dollars” to replace or upgrade spartan Parsons Field would be required to help make the football program competitive with others in the Colonial Athletic Association.

“I think everybody in higher education is faced with the dilemma of competing priorities and investments,” Roby said in an interview with the Associated Press. “So this wasn’t about what we were already spending. This was about what we were going to really need to spend going forward if we were really going to be fair about allowing people to compete equally.

“The status quo was not an option.”

The school spends more than $4 million annually on the football program while an average of 1,500 to 2,000 people attend home games, Roby said, but the size of the crowds was not a factor in the decision.

The program’s 87 players and 10 coaches learned the news Sunday night at a meeting on campus with Roby, a day after the Football Championship Subdivision team won its final game 33-27 at Rhode Island. The Huskies won their last two games to finish 3-8, their sixth consecutive losing season.

Northeastern began playing football in 1933 and took three years off from 1943-45 because of World War II. Its all-time record was 289-364-17.

The Huskies began their sixth season under coach Rocky Hager with a 54-0 loss to Boston College that started a six-game losing streak.

“Northeastern has always been guided by the principle that we should focus on our opportunities for leadership,” Aoun said in a statement. “This approach ultimately leads to difficult choices, but leadership requires that we make these choices. This decision allows us to focus on our existing athletic programs.”

Several outstanding NFL players, including defensive ends Sean Jones and Keith Willis and tight end Dan Ross, played at Northeastern.

Jones, drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in the second round in 1984, had 113 sacks in 13 seasons. Willis, signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1982, had 59 sacks in 11 seasons. Ross, a second-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1979, had 290 catches for 19 touchdowns in seven NFL seasons.

The university said players will keep their athletic scholarships through graduation if they obtain their degrees at Northeastern.

Roby was head basketball coach at Harvard from 1985 to 1991 and served as co-captain of Dartmouth’s basketball team in the late ’70s.

“As emotional as this decision is and was,” he said, “and as much as it was impacting so many wonderful people, coaches and athletes, you have to try to think about the big picture and do what you think is right. So that’s what I tried to do.”

It certainly brings up an interesting argument about whether or not being “financially viable” is the measuring stick by which a program’s longevity or even existence is going to be judged. There are probably more than a few FBS programs who would fall on the chopping block if more university staff members begin to allow existence only on financial independence. That’s bad news for a whole lot of programs, and certainly damning for universities that are controlled by administrators in the President’s office who think they know what is “best” and dabble in athletic decisions. I’m sure glad Ball State doesn’t have that problem. I’m thankful we have an athletic department and a football program that is financially awesome and a President that lets the department run the way it needs to. Wait a minute…

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