St. Peter's drops football program due to trouble competing

Updated: June 14, 2007, 3:56 PM ET
Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Saint Peter's College dropped its non-scholarship Division I-AA football program Thursday, citing concern for its athletes and difficulty remaining competitive.

"You have to feel for the kids," athletic director Bill Stein said in a telephone interview from his office at the Jersey City school. "It was a very tough decision, but it was the right decision."

Stein informed coach Chris Taylor, the only full-time member on the football staff, of the decision Thursday morning. Stein said the school was in the process of relaying the decision to the 33 returning players and 14 incoming freshmen.

Taylor was not immediately available for comment.

Saint Peter's, 2-8 last season, has played football since 1971, when the program was Division III. The program was suspended in 1984 and '88 for a lack of players. The Peacocks went Division I-AA in 1993 when the NCAA passed legislation prohibiting Division I programs from having sports below Division I. The Peacocks are 38-103 since the move.

Stein cited the demise of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference football league, recruiting problems and scheduling difficulties as the main reasons for deciding to end the program.

"I have a responsibility for the health, safety and well being of our student-athletes," Stein said.

The MAAC football league was vibrant in the early '90s, but Fairfield, Siena and Canisius stopped fielding teams and St. John's, Georgetown and Duquesne have either left the league or are leaving next year.

Saint Peter's also had trouble scheduling games because it does not have an on-campus field. It plays its home games at Cochrane Stadium, a facility owned by Jersey City. The city only allowed St. Peter's to play on Thursday and Saturday nights, so it was hard to schedule games, Peacocks spokesman Dan Drutz said.

Stein said it cost about $400,000 to run the football program. The money will now be used to enhance the other 19 sports the college sponsors.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press