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Monday, November 23, 2009
Too costly, football done at Northeastern

ESPN.com news services

BOSTON -- Northeastern University is dropping its football program after 74 years, saying it's too expensive to maintain.

President Joseph Aoun and the board of trustees endorsed the move Friday after a two-year review of the Boston school's sports programs by athletic director Peter Roby.

The program's 87 players and 10 coaches learned of the program's demise Sunday night at a meeting on campus with Roby, a day after the Football Championship Subdivision team (formerly Division I-AA) won its final game 33-27 at Rhode Island.

The Huskies won their final two games to finish 3-8, their sixth consecutive losing season.

The decision is consistent with the university's strategic approach to prioritize programs and invest in signature strengths.

-- Northeastern, which recently added $10 million in upgrades to its hockey/basketball arena

The school will honor team members' athletic scholarships.

Northeastern, which began playing football in 1933, had an all-time record of 289-364-17.

The school made the announcement on its Web site Monday.

According to the statement, Roby made the initial recommendation.

"The decision is consistent with the university's strategic approach to prioritize programs and invest in signature strengths," the school said.

The school recently renovated Matthews Arena, home to its hockey and basketball teams, at a cost of more than $10 million.

Huskies football hasn't had a winning season since 2003, when it went 8-4. Its record since is 20-47. Northeastern has played since 1933, with the exception of the war years from 1943 to 1945.

According to The Boston Globe, the team averaged fewer than 1,600 fans per game at Parsons Field this season.

"Our goal for athletics is to achieve sustainable excellence in all areas," Roby said in an open letter to the Northeastern community, according to the statement. "We do not define success merely through wins and losses. Instead, we recognize that success comes from creating a positive student-athlete experience. The primary motivation for this decision was based on the significant obstacles to providing this experience for our football players."

In 1997, Boston University, which played at the same level as Northeastern, disbanded its football program.

According to the statement, a committee including trustees, faculty, students, alumni and donors has been studying the athletic programs since early 2007.

"Ultimately it was determined that elevating and sustaining a competitive Division I football program would require additional multimillion dollar investments on an ongoing basis," the statement said. "A broad consensus developed behind discontinuing football and focusing future resources on programs -- both academic and non-academic -- where the university can achieve and sustain leadership."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPNBoston.com was used in this report.