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January 22, 2004

Losing Streak Ends Abruptly: Team Disbanded

FROM THE ADIRONDACKS COMES WORD that Siena ended the nation’s third-longest Division I football losing streak in an unconventional way -- by losing its football program. The Saints had lost 13 straight and were 31-101 in 15 seasons.

AD John D’Argenio cited the "investment needed" as the primary reason for dropping the program.  The $200,000 budget was the lowest in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Asked if he had any indication the program was in jeopardy, Siena coach Jay Bateman said, "No, none." He had recruited players as recently as December. "There’s no right time to drop a football program," said Bateman, who in 2000 became Siena’s head coach at age 26.

The team’s chronic ineptitude did little to increase the chances for survival.

Siena also dropped football in 1996 but was forced to bring it back after forcefull protest by players and alumni. D’Argenio said that won’t happen again. And the student body is unlikely to care.  Indeed, many students were not even aware that Siena had a football team. The Saints averaged 877 fans a game, and were outdrawn by many upstate New York high school teams. Siena is the fourth MAAC school to drop football since 2002, joining Canisius, Fairfield and St. John’s.

Siena will honor the contracts of Bateman and his only full-time assistant. Siena began playing football as a club team in 1965. It became a Division III program in 1988 and was a charter member of the MAAC in 1993.   (Albany Times-Union  1-22-04)