The Lumberjack student newspaper
Isaiah Hall, right, gets to the edge of the field and turns toward the end zone for the Humboldt State University offense while defeating Simon Fraser 72-14 on Saturday, Sept. 16. | Photo by Diego Linares

Future of Jacks ball in doubt

November 1 deadline is the date to save for HSU Football.

It’s Saturday night at the Redwood Bowl. The fog and mist comes over the trees, suddenly 7,000 screaming fans echo off the trees like owls in the night. Daunting to any opposing team, especially when the chainsaws roar as Humboldt State scores.

In the midst of a historic season, this could all be gone as of Nov. 1, when Humboldt State administration will decide on the fate of HSU Football as they continue to handle the school’s intercollegiate athletics program and its financial deficit.

“We’re not just looking for pledges for the first year, we also hope to get pledges for the next five years,” said Athletic Director Duncan Robbins. “We don’t want to just save football for a year, we want to plan for the future as well.”

Robbins and the Office of Advancement are working together with alumni and community volunteers to raise the needed initial funds and future pledges by the November deadline. The suggested number being around $500,000 before the deadline.

“We know what we need to raise to remove the red ink from our budget,” said Robbins, “so we have a definitive target from what we need from HSU’s campus and community members on saving the program.”

The goal is to save the program with options of cutting or putting the team on a two year hiatus.

As a program that has gained national recognition from the New York Times and Sports Illustrated, there’s a noticeable crazed fan base in this community. With that comes the emotion and outrage of potentially not having a football team at Humboldt State. Former players like Taylor Mitchell want President Rossbacher to know they won’t let the program go silently.

“The program means everything to me, the opportunity to play out my dream of playing college football,” said Mitchell. “It’s the heart of the community.”

There’s a sentiment from a few players on this year’s current team that Rossbacher and Robbins aren’t doing everything in their power to keep football at HSU.

“Lisa Rossbacher and Duncan Robbins, if they wanted to fix it, they could,” said senior lineman Jarred Layel. “They’re trying to kill the program.”

Head Coach Rob Smith’s not just coaching a group of football players, but a group of young men that are growing and developing everyday as Jacks, something that goes beyond the field.

“Frustrated, disappointed, a touch of anger at the work these kids are putting in on a daily basis,” said Smith.

Coach Smith believes there’s value in college sports, the value it brings to the community, to the students on campus. If it wasn’t for the school’s athletics program. Getting the community of Humboldt County onto the campus would be difficult.

“There’s value to community, our players and our student body,” said Smith. “There’s entertainment value.”

You go to the games, you see kids asking for players autographs. That’s when you know the impact has been made. This football program doesn’t belong the current AD, president or coach. It belongs to Humboldt County. It was here before them and the hope is it will be here when they are gone.

“What other program on campus brings in 7,000 people from the community on to this campus,” said Smith. “This community appreciated us.”

Going from playing and hosting a Division II playoff game in 2015 (the first time since 1968) to getting its program cut sounds like a cruel and unusual punishment. It’s a realization that all the success in the world can’t save the team from what looks like insurmountable debt.

“The deficit isn’t of our doing,” said Smith. “It has to do with enrollment and what I believe is a flawed funding in the way athletics is funded at HSU.”

There’s an understanding between athletic director Robbins, President Rossbacher and Head Coach Rob Smith that preserving what historically has been a rich tradition at HSU is a good thing for the community. HSU has lead the conference in attendance since coach Smith has been here.

Players will also have the option of transferring to another school without facing an eligibility penalty because HSU dropped the program.

“Our goal if the worse thing happens would be to place the players and coaches in the best situations possible.” said Robbins.

Robbins and Smith both have reiterated that the coaching staff and athletic department would work to help players find new schools if they want to keep playing.

“I think with a segment of the community that would be a huge loss,” said Robbins. “That’s why there’s so much passion to save the program.”

The community’ support for the team, alumni and boosters have a tall task in front of them to keep football in Humboldt.

“We’re have a specific plan for fundraising, we’re out making phone calls and kissing babies,” said Robbins.

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination