Campus: CSU Northridge -- November 14, 2001

Athletics Experts Say Northridge Should Drop Football

Two national collegiate athletics experts with decades of experience have endorsed the recommendation that Cal State Northridge discontinue its football program after the current season to help remedy the university's spiraling athletics budget deficits.

Former National Collegiate Athletic Association President Joseph Crowley, now president emeritus of the University of Nevada, Reno, and University of Cincinnati Director of Athletics Bob Goin, a nationally recognized figure with four decades of athletics experience, concluded that Northridge's Athletics Department made the correct recommendation last month.

"Dropping a sport is a painful undertaking for a university," the pair wrote in their report to Northridge President Jolene Koester, who had requested the independent, outside review. "Dropping football, the biggest sports program, is particularly painful…. Nevertheless, we believe that is the decision CSUN now must make," they added.

The two veteran athletics figures also counseled that Northridge, contrary to some speculation, can have a strong intercollegiate athletics program without playing football. "There is abundant evidence that can be marshaled in support of this answer," the pair said in their report, citing the many successful NCAA Division I schools that do not compete in football.

Crowley and Goin were asked to evaluate the October 1 recommendation by Northridge's Athletics Department and Athletics Director Dick Dull. The department recommended discontinuing football to help remedy athletics budget shortfalls projected at $725,000 this year and expected to reach nearly $1 million-a-year by 2004-05 unless something is done.

In preparing their report, Crowley and Goin reviewed the Athletics Department report and spent a day at Northridge in late October touring the university's athletics facilities and interviewing key figures. Those included Athletics Department administrators, head football coach Jeff Kearin, student government leaders, and representatives of several other campus entities.

President Koester is considering the Crowley-Goin report along with many other individual comments that have been submitted to the university during the past month and a half since the Athletics Department issued its recommendation. President Koester has promised to make a decision on the department's recommendation by Thanksgiving.

In reviewing the status of Northridge athletics, Crowley and Goin concluded, "The athletic program's financial situation is precarious. Simply put, the budget is decidedly inadequate to support a Division I program that includes football. That has been the program's position, apparently, since it moved up from Division II nearly a decade ago."

After recounting the relatively high cost of running a football program, Northridge's inadequate facilities for football, poor attendance at football games and very modest external financial support for the sport, they said, "Given these considerations, the logic driving the recommendation…is virtually inarguable.

"Even with the discontinuation of football, maintaining a 20 sport Division I program would be a daunting task for the university," the pair added in their report. Northridge, now at 21 sports with football, already offers one of the broadest intercollegiate athletics programs among comparable institutions, spending more than $7 million a year on athletics.

To keep the entire athletics program strong even without football, Crowley and Goin said the university must have a university commitment to significantly improve its fundraising for athletics and, by doing so, find ways to fund various athletics facility upgrades that are important to the future of the program.

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