Princeton drops football program
April 4, 2006, 5:00 am·
As the first men's squash player to ever win four individual titles in a collegiate career, Princeton's Yasser El Halaby has become nothing less than a superstar in Old Nassau.
His groupies are numerous, and the applause he received at Jadwin Gym when the Tigers faced Penn to close out the basketball season was louder than any cheer the action on the floor received all night.
Recently, the Princeton athletic department has taken notice as well.
In order to maintain the program's newfound dominance of men's squash, Princeton will eliminate its football program effective immediately and devote those financial resources to squash.
"No one cares about football here anymore," Princeton athletic director Gary Walters said.
He noted that the Tigers only drew more than 10,000 fans to a home game once this past season, compared to four times in 2004.
Of perhaps greater importance, though, is that Princeton has not beaten both Harvard and Yale in the same year since 1994. Though the Tigers beat the Crimson this past season, in the four years prior to that Princeton was swept by the only two schools it ever claims to care about.
"It was really getting boring having to beat them every year, " said former Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, now with the St. Louis Rams.
Princeton last beat Yale in 2000, and has not won a title since 1995. Even in that season, the Tigers lost to the Elis.
"You better believe we don't like losing to Harvard and Yale," Walters said. "When we lose to a pair of institutions that are equally snooty but inferior in every other aspect to us, it's a real nuisance."
Princeton football coach Roger Hughes was not so happy.
"We got 100 guys out here busting their asses for 80 hours a week," he said loudly when asked how it feels to be out of a job. "How do you think it feels?"
Hughes did admit, though, that it was not such a bad thing to be leaving after admitting that his program was in violation of NCAA rules on maximum hours athletes can spend practicing.
Three of the seven presidents of schools with football teams could not be reached for comment, while three more said that they did not care about their schools' athletic departments.
Penn president Amy Gutmann issued a statement through her spokeswoman, Leah Popowich, that said she has "respect for Princeton's decision."
Penn men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy said before leaving for Temple that he is sick of every article in the DP being about basketball, but added, "I have a lot of respect for Princeton -- they had a very good football team."
Gutmann noted that she looked forward to continuing to beat Princeton in basketball in the years to come.