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Boston University players turn back on school

October 31, 1997

BOSTON (AP) _ Goodbye, Boston University. Hello, ``University X.″

BU football players, upset over the school’s decision to cancel the program after this season, say they will cover up the school’s name on their jerseys and helmets for their remaining four games, starting on Saturday against Connecticut.

The players have already started wearing their practice uniforms backward, with some taping an ``X″ on their jerseys.

``We’re basically playing for ourselves,″ running back Roger Harriott said. ``We’re calling ourselves ‘University X.’ Basically, we don’t have any title.″

Although players had discussed buying their own, neutral uniforms in protest, sports information director Ed Carpenter said Friday that the team had not yet decided how to dress for the protest.

``I’m not sure what they’re wearing tomorrow,″ Carpenter said. ``But as far as I know, the game is on.″

The Boston University Board of Trustees decided a week ago to drop football, which costs approximately $3 million a year, and use the money on other sports, including women’s teams. The players were told last Saturday _ after their 28-7 homecoming loss to Northeastern.

Players will be allowed to keep their scholarships or transfer to another school to play football as early as next season. Coach Tom Masella will be paid for the remaining two years of his contract.

But the players resented the decision, as well as how it was made and how they were informed. At a team meeting on Sunday, they decided to finish the season _ but not without protest.

They met with university Provost Dennis Burkey and athletic director Gary Strickler on Tuesday to hear the school’s side.

``We listened to a lot of explanations,″ sophomore defensive end Mike Germino said, ``But no one was able to give any reason other than money.″

Captain Travis Raitt said the players considered forfeiting the rest of their games, but feared that the school would take away their scholarships if they did. Most of the players will leave as soon as the semester is over, he said.

``I’m not even considering staying here after what they did to us,″ Harriott said. ``... We’re playing the last four games for ourselves.″

BU dropped varsity baseball in 1995. However, it is not without its sporting glory.

The Terriers have won four NCAA hockey championships and made nine appearances in the title game. The BU basketball team is coming back after its best seasons in years, going 25-5 and winning the America East title.

The BU football program barely survived the 1960s, with rumors of its demise resurfacing early this decade. But the arrival in 1993 of quarterback Robert Dougherty led to consecutive Division I-AA playoff appearances, and the team seemed on solid footing.

But the Terriers have won just four of their last 29 games, with an 0-7 start this season. Average attendance at Nickerson Field, which sits on the former home of the Boston Braves before they left for Milwaukee, is around 2,000.

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