Hofstra freshman running back Miguel Maysonet did not attend the meeting Thursday that would signal the end of football at Hofstra. He had no idea of the subject matter.
"My coach sent me a text saying we are having an urgent meeting,'' said Maysonet, the 2008 Hansen Award winner (Suffolk's top high school player) from Riverhead. "I said, 'I have class; I can't make it.' He said, 'This may be a little more important.' I still blew it off, thinking it can't be . . . [anything] too crazy, and I just went to class.''
Maysonet learned that coach Dave Cohen had informed the team of the program's demise. "I saw players and their eyes were all watery,'' he said. "I said to myself, 'This is the real deal. They just canceled our football program.' ''
Even those who completed their careers last month were stunned. "Words can't even describe it. My heart goes out to the underclassmen,'' senior defensive tackle Joe Akabalu of Brentwood said. "It hurts that your alma mater is going to be nonexistent.''
Hofstra's decision affects several former Long Island high school stars such as Maysonet and sophomore Brock Jackolski. from William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach. Hofstra had put together a veritable all-star team of Long Island high school graduates that included quarterbacks Steve Probst of Farmingdale and Joe Sidaras, who also went to Floyd. "Everybody is in shock. Nobody knows what to do,'' said Sidaras, a redshirt freshman.
Said Probst, a sophomore, "I'm angry, but I think I'm more upset that I have to leave some of my best friends in the world. To leave these guys and never be with them again is pretty tough. You can't share this experience with them anymore.''
Those wanting to stay local will find an open door at Stony Brook, now Long Island's only Division FCS (I-AA) football program. "A lot of people said Stony Brook would be a great fit for me,'' Maysonet said. "Right now I'm not sure what direction my life is going to turn.''
That seems to be the prevailing opinion of his teammates, too. "To be honest, I'm 100 percent not sure,'' Jackolski said about his next move. "I thought it was all a joke at first. I'm not sure whether to go to a bigger school. I just don't know.''
Sophomore back Kwabena Assante of Westbury said, "I cried. It's my team. They mean everything to me. I have no plans right now. I'm trying to see what my options are. . . . I just want to play football. That's all I want to do.''
Maysonet recalled his teammates talking about the recent end of football at Northeastern, a fellow member of the Colonial Athletic Association. "We were like, 'Wow, we hope that never happens to us,' '' he said. "Then today it did.''