“Business as usual,” Hunter Greeley ’04, a member of the hockey team, said about the morning of Thursday Feb. 6.

The team was in the midst of its standard morning practice at the Wonderland of Ice.

What was “business as usual” soon took a turn for the worst when head coach Jim Hunt received a phone call from Director of Athletics Eugene Doris at 9 a.m. asking for the entire team and coaching staff to meet at the Walsh Athletic Center.

“We thought we might be getting a new rink and making forward progress with the program,” Hunt said. “Once I received that phone call to have the entire team meet, I knew it wasn’t good.”

Before Thursday, the team hadn’t heard anything about the possibility of being disbanded. No rumors. No inklings. Nothing.

“We heard the rumors that football may be cut, and we were actually thinking we’d benefit from that and receive more funding,” Greeley said.

Those high hopes and lofty expectations were soon slammed down harder than any blind-sided check the hockey team had ever encountered on the ice.

Program gone, just like that. Nearly 40 years in existence at Fairfield, now over.

The same holds true for the six-year-old football team, whose only warnings came when head coach Joe Bernard left and rumors began to spread that the future of the program was uncertain.

The athletic administration would have you believe that the football team’s future became unknown when Bernard decided to leave. But maybe the truth lies with Bernard leaving the university because he knew the program was going down.

If not for those rumors, the football players would have not received forewarning either.

The university that stresses and instills upon its students the “Jesuit” way that represents honesty and respect, took a giant leap backwards by not awarding these student-athletes the respect they have earned by representing Fairfield University to its fullest.

Yes, the decision was important for the university’s budget. Yes, finances are an overriding factor. But communication is a far superior one.

Football and hockey alumni were also kept out of the loop. Only the more “generous” donors received a letter in the mail last Friday (a day after the announcement) making them aware that the programs will no longer exist.

As for the average alumni, they haven’t received any direct communication from the university.

“I’m doing my part as well as everyone else. We give as much as we can to the school,” said Matt Costanzo ’01, a former captain of the football team. “It’s just a slap in our face.”

The university not only didn’t communicate its potential plans to cut programs, but the timing of its decision to do so was awful. Not only did the university take away the players’ chances to continue competing at Fairfield, but seriously hurt their opportunity to play for a big name program at this late juncture of the school year.

Sure, administrators said it was a hard decision. They have shifted the blame to the budget committee having just completed its review of the university’s finances.

But, St. John’s underwent an extensive 18-month process before deciding to eliminate five of its varsity athletic programs in December.

Was that sort of process done here? The answer is clearly no.

Finances are an increasingly large concern, especially in today’s society, and the university’s decision to drop two of its higher budget sports was the most efficient way to do so.

A decision could have been better planned in light of the heart, drive and passion of the student-athletes involved.

But instead a decision was made that will leave a sour taste in 85 students who will most likely not be at Fairfield next year.

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