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Stony Brook, Hofstra cutting costs, not sports

Doing more with less.

It's a common theme across every athletic department in the nation, and two local Division I schools - Stony Brook and Hofstra - are not immune.

But things - at least for now, in this time of cost-cutting and, in some instances, sport-cutting - are not as bad as elsewhere.

In fact, Stony Brook seems to be going in the opposite direction: Doing more with more, you might say. Even as the school tries to make up a $1.2-million shortfall in its $20-million departmental budget, Stony Brook is adding 126 scholarships for next school year with the full funding of the football program and 63 added scholarships for women's sports to satisfy Title IX requirements.

Hofstra is trying to trim costs as well, though athletic director Jack Hayes wouldn't reveal the department's deficit or overall budget.

But neither school has any plans to cut sports, as other schools in the Northeast have done in the last several months.

"You really have to prioritize," Stony Brook athletic director Jim Fiore said. "In times such as these, the most important thing to keep in mind is the overall experience of the student-athlete. We don't want to change that."

For both schools, and even for the conferences both schools are in, the central cost-cutting measure is travel.

"As a conference, the CAA has reduced the number of teams in some championships from six to four," Hayes said. "And for us, it means trying to find non-conference games closer to home."

Hayes cited a women's basketball tournament at Connecticut that the Pride will play in next fall. "We're lucky to be in a corridor where there are a lot of quality schools to play," he said.

Stony Brook women's soccer coach Sue Ryan agrees. "We're getting on the [ Long Island Sound] ferry to go up and play Yale and Fairfield, and we'll bus to most of our other non-conference games," she said.

Stony Brook football coach Chuck Priore said his team will bus to VMI in the fall rather than charter a plane. "That's saving us $40,000," he said. "These are things everyone is dealing with in their everyday lives, not just in sports."

The key to making up lost funds for things such as far-away tournaments is simply raising more money. Not at the departmental level, but at each individual sport level for some of the smaller sports.

"Now, maybe it's a little bit more about getting out and talking to people than it might have been," said first-year Hofstra baseball coach Patrick Anderson. "But I look at it as a positive. It's a way to connect with the alumni. We don't want to cut corners, and we won't have to."

There also are travel costs that can't be avoided, especially for Hofstra. The CAA has several schools that are plane flights away from here and no plans to go to an unbalanced, divisional format in any sport. Hayes said scheduling multiple games on trips - going to UNC Wilmington and Georgia State, say - is a possibility, but that involves changing things at the conference level.

"These are all hard decisions," he said.

Ultimately, though, nothing noticeable will change at either school for the upcoming season. Fiore said Stony Brook still is proceeding with its plans for a new arena, though ground might not be broken on the $20-million facility until 2010.

At Hofstra, the need to recruit and support an established Division I program has not been sidetracked.

"We get a lot of our recruits from California and even outside the country," Hofstra women's volleyball coach Kristina Hernandez said. "This is how we can compete, and we haven't gotten any indication that things will change."

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