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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Gone, for a while

   January 18, 1971 -- The University at Buffalo had been playing football since the 19th century when coach Bob Deming was in Houston for an NCAA convention. It's rare that a coach takes a hit, but Deming was blind-sided by the news that UB was getting out of the football business.

   Dr. Robert Ketter, the UB president, made the announcement. While some had heard talk that the program was in some financial trouble, few expected the university to drop the sport completely.

   The difficult part was the timing. There was no discussion, no warning, no chance to try to raise money to save the sport. Coaches … including future NFL offensive line coach Jim McNally … were recruiting when they found out they were out of work.

   The Bulls had gone through a 2-9 year in 1970 after winning six games the year before. Still, the state university system had dropped grants-in-aid for athletes.

   Meanwhile, UB never could fill Rotary Field, a facility that held fewer than 14,000. The largest crowd there was 11,466 for Boston University in 1963.

   The sport came back in 1977 in Division III. It moved to Division I-AA in 1993, and the Bulls eventually returned to full Division I-A status in 1999.

--- Budd Bailey


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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.