By Ray Hamill — It’s been exactly one year to the day since Humboldt State president Lisa Rossbacher announced that the school’s football team had been saved.
Like a grinch dressed up as Santa Claus.
Since then, HSU fans have been catapulted through a rollercoaster of a year, that has included two head coaches resigning, a farcical search for a new head coach, a bittersweet final season, and, of course, the announcement 134 days ago that Rossbacher was reneging on her word and that the team would be cut.
Through it all, her popularity, and that of interim Athletic Director Duncan Robins, has plummeted, and a banner hung outside the president’s offices this week shows just how unpopular R and R remains.
She has alienated a wide range of local community members, including sports fans and boosters, just as Robins has done.
And his presence alone continues to alienate them, something we will no doubt see in full force at next year’s HSU sports dinner/auction.
Destined to fail
The school loses a lot of things without football, but it’s going to feel the loss of boosters more than anything.
You can dream all you want about the money saved by not fielding a football team all now going to other sports, but the reality is that’s not going to happen for two reasons.
One, cutting football will have a negative and snowballing impact on the operating budget of the entire athletic department because of the substantial reduction in student fees now going there without 90 football players.
The entire athletic department.
And two, many boosters will no longer support sports at the school, not just because of their disdain for the current administration for getting rid of the football team, but also because for many of them football was the only HSU team they really cared about.
Many of them only supported the other teams there because of football.
I’m not sure Rossbacher and Robins understand that, but don’t be surprised to see this decision having a negative impact on all the teams’ scholarship funding going forward.
The central problem remains Duncan’s relationship with the local community, or lack of it.
He has alienated athletes, coaches and boosters with his decisions and, according to many of them, his many lies.
And without the support of the local boosters, a sports department the size of HSU’s is destined to fail.
It’s another far reaching consequence of eliminating the football team from a community like Humboldt County.
Lame duck president
Generally speaking, Rossbacher has shown poor leadership, and having her around for another seven months as a lame duck president does no one any good.
At this stage, judging by her track record, she can only do more harm, at a time when the school needs strong leadership more than ever before.
I’m sure she’s staying for the money, of course, and to be honest, you can’t blame her for that.
So just pay her. The CSU has the money. Pay her to the end of the school year and get an interim replacement in now to begin sorting out this campus-wide mess.
Including that within the athletic department.
It’s also time to hire a full-time AD, someone with experience and the knowledge of how to save a troubled sports program, instead of slicing and dicing.
This lame duck president’s long, long goodbye is not acceptable to many of the people in this community who truly care about the state of Humboldt State.
The sign on campus this week reminded us of that.