By Leo Haggerty


When talking about institutions of higher learning lately, all of the discussion has centered around the resumption of intercollegiate sports.  Let me be the first to inform you that almost everyone, including myself, has been missing the boat and not focusing on the big picture.

Well, I had an epiphany last week when it comes to what to expect from colleges and universities this fall. My eyes were opened by a good friend earlier this week and, thank goodness, he helped me see the light even though that light could be the train coming to run you over.

So, let me enlighten you, my loyal readers.  I had on my radio show, KSP Radio on Tuesday night from 8 pm to 10 pm, this week Don Harnum.  Coach Harnum, and that was his title when I first met him over 20 years ago, is the former head basketball coach at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Harn, as he is affectionately know by his friends and I am glad I fall into that category, now serves as the Athletic Director for the Broncs.

During his segment, I asked him, because Rider University doesn’t have a football program, will it be easier or harder to survive the pandemic if it goes into 2021 without football.  The answer I, and our listeners, heard was eye-opening to say the least.

Don’s answer, and I am paraphrasing here, was that Rider should be able to withstand an extended delay in the reopening of intercollegiate sports. Not having football won’t put a drain on the revenue flow.  Nothing surprising here, right?

Now, here’s the part that a large majority of people, including myself, have not taken into consideration.  Harnum then said, and again I paraphrase, our biggest concern, when we hopefully reopen, is the student population not returning.  If a good portion of them decide to take a year off or take online course not affiliated with Rider, then that influx of tuition money to keep the university afloat will seriously hampered.

What does that mean?  If institutions of higher learning, large or small, see a precipitous decline in enrollment at the beginning of the 2020 fall term, some school will be in danger of closing their doors due to a lack of operating expenses.

So, forget about worrying if you favorite college will be able to compete on the gridiron or in other intercollegiate sports.  Be concerned that enough students matriculate back so the campus can stay open. If they don’t, some institutions may not have the financial where-with-all to continue to operate let alone field intercollegiate sports teams.

Harn, thanks for the candid update even though you were the bearer of possible bad tidings. Personally, that’s what I’ve liked about you.  You always told it like it is no matter what the answer happened to be.

Here’s praying we never get to that point because I’m being selfish.  I always look forward to my early December excursion to Philly to catch the Army-Navy game and then a quick jaunt up to Jersey for a Broncs home game.  I hope that is a tradition that will continue for a long time.