November 5, 2001 Vol. VI, No. 6

National Athletics Experts to Advise on Future of Football

President Koester Seeks Broad Input Prior to Decision on Discontinuing Program

Two national collegiate athletics experts with decades of experience will be among those offering advice to President Jolene Koester on the proposal by the Athletics Department that Cal State Northridge discontinue its football program after the end of the current season.

Joseph Crowley, former president of the University of Nevada, Reno and of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and Bob Goin, the athletics director at the University of Cincinnati and a member of the NCAA Division I Championships/ Competition Cabinet, visited CSUN last week at the president's request.

The veteran athletics figures met with key participants in the campus' football discussion and are expected to offer their advice to the president this week. President Koester has indicated she intends to decide as promised before Thanksgiving on the Athletics Department's recommendation to discontinue football.

In the near future, the president also is expecting to receive a response from Associated Students, the university's student government entity. AS President Tari Hunter organized a student task force on the athletics' proposal, and students have been considering alternatives to that recommendation.

Elsewhere, both the President's Advisory Board of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Faculty Senate already have voted to endorse Northridge Athletic Director Dick Dull's recommendation that athletics can no longer afford to operate a football program that is its costliest sport, yet generates little support or revenue.

The Athletics Department report to the president cited a series of factors for its recommendation. Chief among them are athletics budget shortfalls projected at $725,000 this year and expected to reach nearly $1 million-a-year by 2004-05, combined with a football program that costs more than $1 million-a-year, but has trouble drawing more than a couple thousand fans to home games.

Other factors cited in the report are the university lacking appropriate football facilities and having little prospect of generating the private funds to build them; Northridge last year joining the Big West Conference, which no longer hosts football as a conference sport; and football hampering Northridge's efforts to improve its gender equity in athletics.

If the department's recommendation is accepted, Dull said the university would try to cushion the loss of its football team. Football players with athletics scholarships at Northridge could have those continued for the remainder of their eligibility or transfer elsewhere, while the coaching staff could remain employed through June.

Even without football, Northridge would continue to offer one of the broadest intercollegiate sports programs among comparable institutions, fielding 20 sports, 10 for men and 10 for women. The department had a $7.8 million budget last year and involves more than 500 student-athletes.

Because of football's high costs and impact on gender equity, at least eight California universities have dropped the sport in the past decade, and more in prior years. Among those, NCAA Division I schools that ceased football in the 1990s included University of the Pacific (1996), Cal State Fullerton (1993) and Long Beach State (1992).

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