The Friends of UMass Football have sent a letter to the Faculty Senate of the University of Massachusetts regarding the football program. The organization, which ”provides assistance and service in order to help promote, strengthen and develop the interests of the UMass Football program through its membership,” provided the Maroon Musket with a copy of the letter:
The Friends of UMass Football organization has been asked by the UMass Amherst Faculty Senate to state their case with regards to the UMass Football program participation at the FBS level of competition. We are making this statement because of our strong support, belief and faith in the future of the program.
Since the first collegiate game in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton, football has been at the very fabric of American college life. Harvard, Princeton and Yale were the first American colleges to bring the spectacle of football to their campuses and beyond. UMass, where the first team was fielded in 1879, was no exception to the rule. For 133 years football has been a significant part of Mass. Aggie, Massachusetts State College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
In 1947, the legislature created the University of Massachusetts as a successor to Massachusetts State College. Arguably the first attention that many of the citizens of the Commonwealth gave to their state university was in 1954 when UMass “shocked the football world” by beating mighty Harvard at Harvard Stadium.
In 1957, following a crushing defeat at the hands of the University of Connecticut, President Mather decided to award athletic scholarships and, in doing so, the modern era of UMass Football began. In 1960, UMass won its first of 23 conference championships. Since then, UMass Football has appeared in two bowl games, won a national championship and appeared in two other national championship games. During that time millions of people have attended UMass football games home and away and countless others have watched UMass Football on television or listened to games on the radio. We feel that the UMass Football program and UMass Athletics, in general, have been a positive force in garnering alumni support as well as creating positive media coverage for the entire University.
Since the first scholarships with the Class of 1961, hundreds of young men have received a great college education that might not otherwise have been available to them. These young men have gone on to contribute to society in the Commonwealth and beyond in all aspects of life including, but not limited to, medicine, law, business, education, engineering, public service and athletics. Many of these young men have come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and from underprivileged families and in choosing UMass they have been significant contributors to the rich diversity of life on our campus.
The long success of UMass Football has provided ancillary rewards to other aspects of campus life. The large number of football scholarships has created a match for scholarships in women’s sports placing UMass amongst the leaders of NCAA Division One athletic programs in gender equity under Title IX. Where would the great Minuteman Marching Band be without its association to UMass Football? The Minuteman Band and UMass Football have walked hand in hand to be among the greatest ambassadors of our campus and have convinced many prospective students and their parents that UMass is the place to be.
In conclusion, through the hard work and support of many people, UMass Football is at the FBS level, playing home games at Gillette Stadium and building a first class facilities building on campus with groundbreaking this spring. When the facilities building is complete some home games will return to McGuirk Stadium bringing with it an increased level of excitement and football competition never before seen in Amherst. The Friends of UMass Football organization looks forward to supporting the UMass Football program as it builds a first class program at this new level of competition. We feel that it is premature to judge the results of FBS competition after one year and that the UMass Football program is about much more than one year of finances.It is about building community, creating opportunity for young men and bringing honor and pride to our alma mater. UMass Football has been, is and will continue to be a significant part of the great UMass tradition of excellence and we feel proud that we have been able to contribute to that.
The Friends of UMass Football
President, Bill DeFlavio ‘73
Board of Advisors: Bob Foote ’62, Bob Powers ’72, Brian McNally ’77, Cliff Bolden ’00, Darrell Thomas’98, Dennis Keating ’73,Ned Deane ’77, Paul Wennik’62, Peter Dawson’70,Tony Piraino ‘62
Web Site: umassfootball.org
Email: friends @umassfootball.org