When Long Island University joined the ranks of Division I FCS football in the Northeast Conference, a potential Long Island rivalry was born. Or was it?
LIU and Stony Brook won’t play each other this season, but that was to be expected. LIU just joined the FCS in October, and Stony Brook’s schedule already had been finalized. But the teams won’t play next season, either.
At this point, there isn’t a future date to circle on any calendars. Stony Brook athletic director Shawn Heilbron said LIU has yet to make that a possibility.
“We would welcome the opportunity to play LIU,” Heilbron told Newsday. “It makes sense in every aspect given that we are the two Division I programs on Long Island. Unfortunately to this point, LIU has been unwilling to schedule us.”
LIU athletic director Dr. William E. Martinov Jr. declined comment on the matter. He was hired in July to replace Debbie DeJong, who took an administrative position in athletics at Stony Brook.
Stony Brook plays in the Colonial Athletic Association and has made two straight appearances in the FCS playoffs under coach Chuck Priore. LIU plays Villanova, a CAA team, on Nov. 15 and will play Delaware, another CAA team, next season.
LIU coach Bryan Collins said he doesn’t have a say in scheduling opponents, but he feels that “at some point in time in the future, I see [Stony Brook] being a game for us.”
He acknowledged that it could take time. When (and if) LIU plays Stony Brook, Collins wants to be sure his Sharks can compete with the Seawolves. Collins said it could take a couple of more recruiting classes to get there.
Collins, in his 22nd year as LIU head coach and fresh off a 30-4 showing the last three seasons in Division II, said Stony Brook’s path to success is one he hopes to emulate.
“I think Stony Brook’s a great program,” Collins said. “They’re a model to follow, in many ways. They were a club program, then they went to a Division III program, then to Division II, and now they’re a nationally ranked Division I-AA team.”
Stony Brook football joined Division III in 1984. It became Division II in 1995 and Division I in 1999.
"The way they’ve built their program, not only player-wise but facility-wise and support-wise, it’s something for us to look at and try to model in the future,” Collins said. “We want to get to where they are right now, and we’re starting at the first entry-level position.”