Keene State College’s last football team can be found hidden in the archives.
They’re posing in The Keene Normal School Kronicle in the year of 1932, on page 104 tucked away in the Mason Library. The pages smell of dust and old age.
The black-and-white photo is faded and out of focus — a testament to the time that has passed since the last time a down was played on the campus.
The program, which began in 1925, lasted for seven years.
Keene’s football history was all but forgotten. However, one man still recalls what it was like back in the old days when the college had a football team.
88-year-old alumnus Don Carle remembers watching the games with his father (the man Carle Hall is named after) when he was a child, in the early days of the college.
Don Carle has followed KSC athletics and other college teams since he was young. He said that watching Keene football was what originally sparked his interest.
For Carle, Keene Normal School was part of his home growing up on what is now Appian Way. Carle once ran around fields which are now covered by the Media Arts Center and other buildings along the walkway.
“The athletic field was our playground,” Carle said. He continued, “I think it was the football [that] made me interested in sports.”
After the 1932 season, however, the team was disassembled and the fields were no longer used for football.
“It was sad when they dropped it,” Carle said. According to Carle, following the 1931 season, regulations prohibited first-years from participating in athletics, which cut the talent pool and made it even more difficult to recruit for the then new sport.
Over 80 years later, football has yet to re-emerge at KSC.
Director of Athletics John Ratliff attributed access to funds as much of the reason why football has yet to return to KSC.
“Probably the major reason is the cost and the facilities needed . . . It would take a significant investment in order to do it . . . If we’re going to add anything of that magnitude the cost implications would be really significant,” Ratliff said.
In addition, the KSC athletics department would not only have to raise the funds for a new football team and required facilities, fields and staff, but also a number of women’s sports as well.
Title IX requires that colleges provide equal opportunity to both men and women athletes.
Therefore, with an addition of male varsity athletes on the football team, the school would be required to either to cut other male athletic programs or to create other varsity sports for female athletes, such as women’s rugby and tennis, along with others to supplement the difference and balance the ratio, increasing the costs relating to the startup of a KSC football team.
While creating a football team does have its challenges, it also has its benefits. According to Ratliff, a new football team would increase enrollment.
“From an enrollment standpoint, it makes sense,” Ratliff said.
Ratliff noted that the additional tuition income from the added student a
thletes as beneficial in that the costs of attending KSC will pay for football startup costs in just a few years, and bring in further, lasting revenue for years.
As of now, Ratliff, along with Carle and former Sports Information Director Stuart Kauffman said that he doesn’t think they’ll be seeing KSC Owls in football pads anytime soon.
“I can’t envision football being added here at Keene State,” Kauffman said. Kauffman said that the Title IX and financial obligations that go along with starting a KSC football team would be difficult.
Mark Rabasco, a junior on the men’s cross country team at KSC, said that a football team would help bring the school together.
“I think it would bring connectivity, so just bringing everybody to watch a game,” Rabasco said.
Being an athlete, Robasco said he understands why there is not a football team at KSC.
“It would be cool for team spirit, but there’s a lot of cost that goes into it,” Rabasco said.
A football team at KSC will have to wait, as Ratliff and others said they do not see a team coming together in the near future.
For now, all KSC football has is in a few dusty books in the Mason Library. The team has waited decades for its next snap, but the KSC athletic department is still in the huddle — unprepared to call the next play.
Jacob Barret can be contacted at email@example.com