NEW YORK — St. Francis College, one of the smallest NCAA Division I schools, announced Monday that its board of trustees has approved a plan to eliminate its athletic program at the end of the spring semester.
St. Francis sponsors 21 NCAA teams, including men’s and women’s basketball, and has been a member of the Northeast Conference for more than four decades.
The move comes as part of larger restructuring of the private Catholic school located in Brooklyn. Enrollment at the school is about 2,300 undergraduate students.
“There are challenges facing higher education institutions, particularly smaller liberal arts colleges in the Northeast, from which SFC is not immune,” the school said in a news release. “Among these challenges are increased operating expenses, flattening revenue streams, and plateauing enrollment due in part to a shrinking pool of high school graduates in the aftermath of the pandemic.”
The Northeast Conference is also home to Fairleigh Dickinson, the small school located in Teaneck, New Jersey, that pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament history this past weekend.
FDU became just the second team seeded 16th in the field to defeat a No. 1 seed when the Knights beat Purdue on Friday. FDU lost to Florida Atlantic University on Sunday in the second round of the tournament.
“Coming off a week that has served as a rallying cry for the entire Northeast Conference, today is a bittersweet day,” NEC commissioner Noreen Morris said in a statement. “As a charter member of the NEC, St. Francis College is tightly woven into the very fabric of this conference. It saddens us to lose them as an integral member of the NEC community.”
St. Francis also announced that its board granted school president Miguel Martinez-Saenz a request for a personal leave and appointed chief operating officer Tim Cecere as acting president, effective immediately.