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Dropped Football

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Black Monday – Buffalo Cancels Football

Kirk Barton

Buffalo QB Kirk Barton – 1970

Dr. Robert L. Ketter

Dr. Robert L. Ketter

On a chilly Monday back on January 11, 1971, Dr. Robert L. Ketter, president of the State University of New York at Buffalo, announced U.B. was dropping intercollegiate football because it had been losing money over the past five seasons.  Not even the receipts from a regionally televised game in the fall of 1970 against Holy Cross would help reduce the debt the football program had built up.

Dr. Robert L. Ketter said the university decided to drop football “because of insufficient financial support, both in the recent past and in the foreseeable future.  Therefore, and with great reluctance, we are today notifying each of our scheduled football opponents that we will be unable to fulfill our commitments to play in 1971 and beyond.” Intercollegiate athletics at all SUNY schools are required to be self-supporting through student fees, ticket sales and other sources. No public funds are involved.

Dr. Ketter mentioned that more than 100,000 people live within easy distance of U.B.’s Rotary Field, but that the 1970 season drew an average attendance of slightly more than 6,000 per game.  “We can’t say the area is really excited about intercollegiate football,” the U.B. President stated.

Although players receiving athletic scholarships would continue to receive them as long as they attended the university, the players were devastated. Many of the players said the abolition of the team caught them completely by surprise and those with eligibility remaining were unsure whether to try to transfer to other colleges.

It really is too hard to believe,” said junior quarterback Kirk Barton of Endicott, NY. “I can’t for the life of me think who’d put up money for me to go somewhere else when I have a bum knee and only one year of eligibility left,” he mused.

Sophomore defensive back Buddy Boughton of Kenmore commented angrily: “There’s no way this move can enhance the university scene. There’s enough garbage up here already and things that would be a plus sign are never given the attention they deserve.”

Co-Captain Prentice Henley of Buffalo said “Football helped me get through college. Dropping it will hurt a lot of players who might get lost at a Syracuse or a Penn State. It will keep a lot of kids from getting an education they could help pay for by playing ball.“  Although Henley could feel Ketter’s step coming in recent years, he said the announcement was still a shock to him.

Dr. Edmond Gicewicz, team physician and president-elect of the university’s General Alumni Board, said “In my view, the entire alumni community and its program have been greatly weakened by this development.”

Almost immediately, attempts were made by various groups to revive the program but it was slow in coming.  In the fall of 1977, with the support of students, alumni and administration, U.B. finally restarted its football program albeit at the Division III level. For more information on football at the University at Buffalo, visit the UB Sports History Collection website.

 

UB Gives Up Grid Games Over DeficitUB Gives Up Grid Games Over Deficit

BUFFALO (AP) — The State University at Buffalo announced today that it is dropping intercollegiate football because it has been losing money over the past five seasons.

Dr. Robert L. Ketter, the university president, said that the university decided to drop football “because of insufficient financial support, both in the recent past and the foreseeable future.”

“Therefore,” he said, “and with great reluctance, we are today notifying each of our scheduled football opponents that we will be unable to fulfill our commitments to play in 1971 and beyond.”

A university spokesman said the decision to drop football wasn’t made until late last night.

It put an end to football at the university after 63 seasons. The university first fielded a team in 1894, discontinued it from 1901 to 1914, then resumed in 1915.

Ketter said the university had explored every possible solution to the problem before deciding to discontinue, the sport.

Associated Press, January 11, 1971

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