Dear Dr. Rabinowitz,
Last Thursday afternoon, a good friend died and a piece of who I am went with it. When you shut down the football program with no warning; no cries for help; no rallying of the troops…all I have left is a burning empty feeling that used to be Hofstra University. After it sunk in, I was shocked at whose hands were on the killing trigger.
What you did was equivalent to a mafia hit. We all know you did not give the Hofstra football family a chance to “save” the program because maybe you knew we would have been able to keep this program a float, even if we had to fund it ourselves. There are too many great people who Hofstra football calls as alumni that would not let this program die; you obviously never connected with that group.
I regret your classification of what you describe as the benefits of the football program. The benefits of the football program can not be judged on a financial scale or by national attention on the news. It can’t even be measured by attendance in the stands. I was not a star player who Hofstra sent to the pros. I was a member of those great Division III teams under Mickey Kwiatkowski during the 1980’s. I played offensive tackle and only started a few games in my entire career, but the effect the program had on me was immeasurable.
I must say I had not even heard of Hofstra before my high school coach approached me about the school. From the first moment I stepped on the campus, I knew Hofstra was the place for me. I loved everything about the place and loved the fact that the football program was the HEART of the sports program. The school always made me proud. I loved how the school handled things and how professional the people were.
I ask you Dr. Rabinowitz, did YOU ever read about the history of our football program? Did you ever talk to the men who built the program? Do you understand what the program means to us? Don’t you think you OWED us the common decency of being aware of what the Board of Trustees were thinking about doing? At worst, how about a final season? What a disgrace! In my junior year the football team was asked to wear the patch on our uniforms that first talked about “Hofstra Pride.” What a joke, what do I have to be proud of now? The football program was the big brother to all other sports even when we were Division III. I have no idea what the campus is like today and how priorities have changed, but when I visited it always felt very much the same.
I was a big supporter of Hofstra athletics. I may not be the demographic of an important alumnus; I’m only a high school teacher and coach who does not have excessive disposable income to feed your coffers. I’m sure the Board of Trustees does not rate me as important, but this is what I contributed to Hofstra. I would visit the campus at least twice a year. I followed all sports on TV and on-line (I even paid to watch football games that I did not see on that web-site of yours). I got to campus for a few lacrosse and basketball games over the past few years. Football games were tough to attend as a coach I was always busy working with kids in the fall.
I visited with your football staff just last spring to talk about X’s and O’s. They are great men who did a great job. Dave Cohen talked about the football program like a family and that is exactly how he treated me. I always felt like an agent for the school. As a teacher, so many students would ask me about Hofstra because of the football posters and articles that hang in my class room. Understand in New Jersey, Hofstra University is a bit of an unknown entity. I was always there to represent the school. At any given time over the past ten years you have had at least five to ten Paramus High School or St. Joseph Regional High School students who paid tuition and lived on campus at your school. Did you count that as part of what the football program contributes to your school?
When I think of Hofstra, I cannot separate football and academics. So much of what I learned was connected to the lessons I learned from football. To be honest, the most important lessons always came from football. Sorry to let you know Dr. Rabinowitz, your academic side never measured up to what Coach Kwiatkowski taught me about life. Those are the lessons I draw on every day.
Life will go on, it’s not that big a deal. I watched football programs die at Seton Hall, and Ramapo College in New Jersey and both of those schools survived and moved forward. But I can tell you there is something missing on those campuses. I can also tell you when those programs died they did not have the proud tradition that we had at Hofstra. I can also tell you those schools reek of a secondary level school now. The exact opposite of what you described you did not want for your school. You would have been better off minimizing the rest of the athletic program.
In the last few years, Rutgers and many other New Jersey schools have asked residents and high school educators to be loyal to the home state. So that is where I will now put my heart and recommendations for my students, friends and children. Those fine schools will take the place that Hofstra used to hold for me. They now offer so much more then your school does.
As a body cannot survive if the heart is removed—that is how I feel about your University. I can no longer see myself as supporter of anything you do. I will adopt the fine schools we have here in New Jersey and will not waste my breath to support your school again. I can say what many people would say to me about your basketball, lacrosse and all of those others activities you have going on—NOBODY CARES! Why not end all of those other programs as well, then you’ll have plenty of money for scholarships. In the meantime, DO NOT send me anything about your school again, unless you want to open up a dialogue about the football program.