HSU alumni, boosters voice their concerns over AD position

By Ray Hamill — The ongoing search for a new full-time Athletic Director at Humboldt State has a lot of alumni and boosters concerned, and they’re taking their concerns to local media in an effort to make sure their voices will be heard.

This past week, letters have been sent out to local media outlets, including Humboldt Sports, as well as to HSU Vice President of Administration Doug Dawes, who is the chair of the search committee.

The message in the letters is blatantly clear. Local boosters do not want current interim AD Duncan Robins to be given the position on a full-time basis.

The boosters claim his lack of experience should officially preclude him from consideration, and that his goal is to reduce HSU athletics to a a recreational department.

And they are now calling on fellow alumni to let their voices be heard on the matter.

“Fellow Jacks, it is time to voice any concerns you may have about Duncan Robins being hired as the next athletic director at our Alma mater — Humboldt State University,” Carl Del Grande of Save HSU Athletics said in a letter, published in full below.

Del Grande added that Robins was brought on board to eliminate football at the school, a view shared by many in the community, and one backed by former head coach Rob Smith, who himself said Robins told him so when he first came on board in June of 2017.

Robins and school president Lisa Rossbacher officially axed the team one year later.

The school cited budgetary problems as the reason, although an independent study conducted by Strategic Edge Athletics Consultants, hired by the university in 2016, not only refutes this claim but suggests instead that the athletic department’s budget problems will worsen with the elimination of high participant sports such as football or women’s crew, because of the amount of student athlete fees involved.

The decision also ended almost a century of tradition at the school and within the community, and has been heavily criticized by fans, boosters and former players.

So too has Robins.

“He would not get through the paper screening in a legitimate search process,” Del Grande said of Robins. “If Lisa appoints him as AD, in five years he will be re-titled Director of Activities… because HSU will only have club and intramural activities.”

Rossbacher announced her impending retirement in the fall. She will officially step down at the end of the current school year, but has said she wants to fill the AD position on a full-time basis before she goes.

Her decision to cut the football team remains a controversial issue and one that has alienated many in the community and turned them away from HSU sports.

The attendance at this season’s basketball games is down substantially, despite both teams doing well and in the hunt for the playoffs.

The decision to cut football also has widespread implications across the campus, and one that will continue to do so, as well as throughout the community.

Enrollment at the school has declined for three straight years and is certain to do so for a fourth straight year with the elimination of close to 100 football players.

The continued decline in enrollment at the school continues to exacerbate the budgetary issues at the school, which in turn continues to affect the local economy.

In addition, the elimination of close to 100 male athletes will leave the department scrambling to come into compliance with Title IX in the coming years, which has many boosters expecting the Jacks to eliminate women’s rowing.

“With a drop of over 1,000 students in attendance over the past three years, and multi-million dollar deficits, my alma mater is on a death spiral,” Del Grande said.

Humboldt Sports will be running these letters as we receive them, beginning today.

Anyone interested in voicing their opinions on the matter, one way or the other, should email their letters to, and make sure to include a phone number where they can be reached. Letters should be no more than 150 words.

“Our athletes and community deserve better than this!” Del Grande said.


Fellow Jacks,

It is time to voice any concerns you may have about Duncan Robins being hired as the next athletic director at our Alma mater — Humboldt State University.

I hope you will take the time to write a thoughtful, powerful letter that will communicate our concerns about this travesty. We need to make it clear to the community, the search committee, the president, and the chancellor that Duncan is not qualified for this position.

Your letter should be concise, about 150 words and specific details and data are always more convincing.

Letters should be addressed to:

Times Standard- Editor

930 6th Street

Eureka, CA  95501


Douglas Dawes, Vice President and Search Committee Members

1 Harpst Street

Arcata, CA. 95521

North Coast Journal, Editor

310 F Street

Eureka, CA 95501




Dear Mr. Hamill, 

I am a student/athlete alumnus of HSC, with a BA Degree in Kinesiology (1970) and an MA Degree (1971) with an emphasis and 39 year career in Sports Medicine at the intercollegiate level. I have proudly followed HSC Athletics all these years, and I am appalled at the decline in leadership, the canceling of Intercollegiate Football, and lack of positive administrative support shown by Mr. Duncan Robins.

I feel compelled to address the current situation and the interim Athletic Director, Duncan Robins. His lack of experience and productivity would indeed verify the fact that he is not a viable candidate for the full time Athletic Director position. A true leader he has not been. I have experienced both at national and international levels and can tell you, a true leader instills a positive direction and provides attainable pathways to success. Mr. Robins has not demonstrated the integrity nor ability needed to lead a department of diverse individuals, and in doing so, has lost the trust and respect of faculty, coaches, student athletes and community.

The search and hire for the next full time HSC Athletic Director is crucial to the growth and sustainability of the Athletic Department, the student athletes, the Institution, and the community at large! The person hired must be diversified: a leader, knowledgable, proven success, visible, possess integrity, inter-personal skills, be trustworthy and with the tireless work ethics to meet the demands of the job description. This individual will need to be the cornerstone to the growth, development and resurrection of HSC Athletics! Regretfully, Mr. Robins appears to have fallen short on many of these attributes.

Thanking you in advance for your interest to these concerns.


Byron Craighead, MA, AT-Retired

Head Athletic Trainer/Director of Sports Medicine Program

Instructor of Kinesiology and Sports Medicine

Santa Rosa Junior College-Retired

Categories: Basketball, Humboldt State

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  1. “Fellow Jacks, it is time to voice any concerns you may have about Duncan Robins being hired as the next athletic director at our Alma mater — Humboldt State University,” Carl Del Grande of Save HSU Athletics said in a letter, published in full below.”

    Response: Ironic since CDG had the same exact feelings (toward soccer) about eliminating a sports program (as the accused current HSU AD toward recreational sports, as alleged) when principal for Eureka High School in 1987 and 1988, when a few uppidy administrative types would not allow league champions EHS in soccer play in post season…best 2 year run in EHS history for soccer…and CDG basically shafted the student athletes…dark days and history repeating itself through hypocrisy…

    …in 1988, the girls Volleyball team was financed by EHS to go to out of state pre-season games, but boys soccer team and league champs not allowed to participate in playoffs in its own nor cal area, section and region…

    Not the best spokesperson, hypocrisy of course…

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