Hofstra's loss is bound to be Stony Brook's gain. Stony Brook now is the only FCS (I-AA) football program in the area, so it's become one-stop shopping for top Long Island players who want to stay home.

"Hofstra has set the bar on Long Island for Division I college football and indirectly helped to make the Stony Brook University football program better," SBU athletic director Jim Fiore said Thursday. "They had the great tradition. It's a very sad day for the players, the coaches and the administration."

Understandably, Fiore had mixed feelings about the demise of Hofstra's program. He was a free safety for Hofstra's 1990 playoff team.

"It's bittersweet," Fiore said. "We don't want to get a player by default, but we are committed to being a vibrant part of the strong tradition of college and high school football on Long Island."

Fiore, 40, who grew up in Long Beach, remembers going to Hofstra to watch the big-time high school championship events and the college games.

"When I was growing up, it was always about getting to Hofstra as a high school championship destination," he said. "And we've worked hard to make Stony Brook a destination location for high school and college championships. That's a direct result of what I experienced growing up as a public school kid on Long Island."

Fiore, who was a liberal-arts major, has strong family ties to Hofstra, where he met his wife, Lisa, and played alongside her two brothers, Michael and Pete Scheibe.

"Football was a big part of my formative years and the reason why I got into higher education," he said. "And that's because of the experience I had on the football field with my coaches, Mickey Kwiatkowski and Joe Gardi."

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C.W. Post coach Bryan Collins, who also serves as the college's athletic director, was watching the CHSFL's all-star practice last night at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium. As Collins evaluated the talent, he reflected on the university's decision.

"This is not good for college football," he said. "You never want to see a program go in that direction. There are people who only look at bottom- line figures and they don't take into account the intangibles and what the football program does for the university.''

Now Hofstra's players with college eligibility remaining are trying to figure out the next move. After they get past the initial shock, players will have to move quickly to find a place to play.

Collins and Fiore think Hofstra will turn into a meat market for college recruiters in the coming weeks.

"We're going to work with the Hofstra coaches and administration to recruit the student-athletes that can fit into our program academically, athletically and socially," Fiore said. "I have great empathy for the student-athletes, coaches and the entire Hofstra community, who are directly impacted, as well as for the administration, who had to make this very difficult decision."