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After 74 seasons, Northeastern University is scrapping its football program.
School officials said they want to focus on propping up other athletic departments instead of spending the millions needed to improve the program. The team posted a closing record of 3-8 this year, their sixth consecutive losing season.
"The one area that we haven't seen an improvement with respect to our level of excellence or the student-athlete experience was in football," athletic director Peter Roby said Monday at a news conference on the decision.
Northeastern would have needed to spend millions of dollars on new facilities and training equipment to make significant improvements, Roby said, a level of investment he concluded he was uncomfortable recommending.
"Instead of allowing the status quo to continue," Roby said, "I made the recommendation that we discontinue the program."
NU President Joseph Aoun and the board of trustees endorsed the move Friday after a two-year review of the school's sports programs by Roby.
Head coach Rocky Hager said he was shocked by the decision, which Roby shared with the program's 10 coaches and 87 players at a meeting on Sunday night.
The players will have to start considering some difficult questions, Hager said. "Do I forgo playing? Or do I go play and then forfeit the good degree that I'm pursuing?"
Team members can stay on at Northeastern, which has said it will continue to honor players' athletic scholarships, or the university will help them to find new schools and new teams.
Hager said he and his staff are meeting Monday to figure out how to best serve players who might need support and advice.
Among students on campus, reaction to the program's cancellation ranged from sadness to relief.
Senior Emmalyn Crowley said the cut feels like a loss, even on a campus that doesn't closely follow football. "I'm kind of sad about it," she said. "I didn't go to very many games, but they were fun when we did go for homecoming. And I know a lot of guys on the team and I think that they'll probably be pretty disappointed about it too."
"I'm happy that the team got cut," said graduate student Rami Kolli, who cringed, remembering loss after loss. "You could say that if they don't perform they get cut. That's the situation right now, right?"
For Brandon Simon, a third-year undergraduate, it's a question of what Roby will do with all the newly freed-up funding. Roby said Monday the money will be reallocated within the athletics budget.
Simon wants to see it go toward the school's real spectator sport: hockey.
This program aired on November 23, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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