Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Public Petition for Restoration of Holy Cross Football Scholarships

Chu Chu Rah Rah received a message from a devoted Holy Cross alum, Dr. Joe Ciccone, MD, '97. With his permission, we are running it as a means of public petition for those who would like to endorse Joe's call to restore football scholarships at Holy Cross. Please attach your real name and any message you might like to share via the Comments box at the end of Joe's message. (Please know that all e-mail addresses are fully protected!!)

The petition will ultimately be delivered to the Holy Cross administration and Board of Trustees. Thank you Joe for your passion and your eloquence!!

Chu Chu Rah Rah!! 

To:  Members of the Holy Cross Football Community

From: Joe Ciccone, MD, ‘97
Re: Restoration of Football Scholarships

Date: August 11, 2010

Successes in life are relative, and football is no different.  For some, it means being All-League or All-American.  For people like me, simply having had the chance to play on Fitton Field is one of the defining moments of my life. What unifies all of these experiences, whether grand or mediocre, is indefinable, but has something to do with what it means to “wear the purple.”  It has to do with the type of men the program attracts, the life-long friendships that are forged, and the memories that are as vivid today as they were back then. 

For alumni, the strength of that experience drives us to want to see it succeed at the highest possible level.  This does not mean joining the Big East or ACC, but rather the ability to give the Holy Cross Football community the chance to dream once again.  Practically speaking this may mean being able to restore the BC rivalry, playing Army or Navy regularly, or finding a way to fill the seats behind the far endzone during home games.  Most agree that the program is already competitive at that level, but simply lacking in the recognition that goes along with being branded as a “scholarship program.”  Anyone who saw last year’s team knows that the players are already scholarship quality.   

Fitton Field remains a fantastic venue to watch fabulous student-athletes pouring their hearts and souls out for our Alma Mater. The young men that I saw gut it out against Lafayette last year to win the league championship deserved a packed house.  The teams of the future deserve a chance to play in a conference with enough respect that at an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs is possible without having to win the league outright.  If they do win the league, they deserve to be in a conference with enough respect that they are not immediately a 16 seed.  It is my contention that HC should have played Villanova in the championship game last year not in the first round. It is the college’s duty to give the program a chance to prove that it is possible to be competitive athletically, even on a large scale, while still holding true to the highest of academic and Jesuit ideals.   

The counter-argument to scholarships that many people make revolves around a theory that athletic talent and academic ability are somehow inversely related.  Not only is this a fallacy, but it is insulting to those that know firsthand that it is possible. The Holy Cross Gridiron Leadership Council chaired by Larry Doyle has helped sparked a renewed alumni enthusiasm in the program, and created an invaluable resource in the "90-Wide"Mentoring program.  Rest assured, the Board can rely on the alumni, especially those involved in the mentoring program, to make sure that young men of the same character continue to come to the college year after year after the reinstitution of scholarships.  They can also have confidence that we will support the players from day one, providing the guidance they need when times get tough, not only during their time on the hill, but also as they prepare to enter the professional world.  

How then can Holy Cross achieve even greater levels of success both on and off the gridiron? Now is the time for the Holy Cross administration and the Board of Trustees to ‘dare to be great.’ Jesuit principles are not restricted to service to others but also incorporate the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of our lives. While Holy Cross Football specifically and Holy Cross Athletics in general have fabulous and rich traditions, we can not deny that there have been periods of real mediocrity. Although the issue of football scholarships for many may be purely a question of athletics and finances, I believe it goes much deeper than that. I sincerely believe Holy Cross Football can and should be viewed as a means to developing and strengthening the Holy Cross brand on a national level. How valuable is a dramatically enhanced brand to the college? That brand can and should embrace the Jesuit principles wrapped in a spirit of true competitiveness, real honor, and dynamic courage. Will the administration and board be courageous, pursue this brand, and strive for greatness? I strongly encourage them to take up the challenge and embrace the opportunity.         

After 20 years, I think Holy Cross Football stands once again at the crossroads. The program is strong. The coach is world classPride is high. I urge the Board of Trustees and administration to look closely at what happened the last time it stood at these crossroads, and be brave and bold in taking a different path this time.  Holy Cross Football does have a history and tradition unlike any other, and it deserves to be a shining example of all that is possible in collegiate athletics.

I urge the Board to have faith in this tradition, and the courage to allow it to serve as the framework for success on the next level.  If any program can rise to the occasion, it is Holy Cross Football.

Let's win!!!

Joe Ciccone, MD, ‘97


  1. John Glowik '73August 12, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    Great piece of penmanship! I am with you 100% to reinstitute football scholarships to the HOLY CROSS Football Program.
    John Glowik '73

  2. Approve adequate number of athletic football scholarships. -Mike Falivena '63

  3. John White, HC '69August 12, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    For too long there has been a disconnect between Holy Cross and the Central Mass community. I believe that area residents want to have a greater affinity to the College. The shared experience of a packed Fitton Field on a beautiful autumn Saturday afternoon is a great way to bring the two closer together. By reinstituting football scholarships, Holy Cross can show that they do have as great of a commitment to excellence in their athletic programs as they do to their academic, religious, social, and cultural endeavors. The Holy Cross community and Worcester area people all deserve a football program that is second to none in the FCS division.

  4. I endorse the letter.
    Jim Casey '67

  5. I also endorse football scholarships. They deserve IT.....

  6. 'dare to be great' truly noble words most notably directed to the Board of Trustees and the Holy Cross administration to support the football program at these current crossroads. Do the right thing and approve 63 scholarships as a commitment to excellence.

  7. Larry Doyle '83 Chair, HCGLCAugust 12, 2010 at 10:14 PM

    Larry Doyle '83

    I strongly endorse the statement put forth by Dr. Ciccone. I thank him for eloquently challenging the administration and the board. Holy Cross has a chance to grab the ring and elevate the name and status of the school.

    Dare to be great!!

  8. I fully support scholarships for HC Football. With the foundation and tradition in place I cannot see any negative drawback but in fact see this as a means to promote the Holy Cross brand and values both locally and nationwide. Great piece of writing Joe!
    Eric Godlewski '97

  9. While fully appreciating the fiduciary responsibilities that the Holy Cross Board has, there are many intangible benefits to reinstate athletic scholarships in football that won't show up on a financial ledger. Coach Gilmore and his staff have done wonderous things for our football program and deserve the support necessary to have even greater success.

    Include me , one of 3 generations of Holy Cross alums as a strong supporter for football scholarships.

    Tom Neagle '70
    Class Co-Chair
    Gridiron Club Member
    Crusader Athletics Fund Member
    President's Council Member

  10. I fully support football scholarships at HC.
    Dan Visalli c/o 2001, #1

  11. I concur with Joe's eloquent letter.

    I would be remiss to not stipulate that, in all liklihood, I would not have had the opportunity and honor to "wear the purple" should there have been scholarships during my tenure at Holy Cross, should that be a rational from any naysayers. That being said, the long-term benefits to the institution, local area, and overall brand will help Holy Cross attract the personnel, students, and financial resources to stay at the pinnacle of higher education institutions for years to come in what is becoming a more and more competitive environment.

    Kevin O'Brien '97

  12. I enthusiastically support the reinstitution of football scholarships at Holy Cross.

    Ed Doyle '82
    President's Council Member

  13. I also support HC's use of football scholarships - Patrick Quay '01

  14. I would also like to voice my support of the positions outlined in Dr. Ciccone's letter.

    Ben Galvani '73

  15. With leagues like the NEC adding schools and adding scholarships, if HC and the Patriot League don't get on board soon, we are going to be passed by. It is time for the administration to bring back scholarships and give our coaches and athletes their full support.

    Brad Capon '05

  16. I can assure the administration that support from alumni across the nation will spike when HC reinstitutes football scholorhships. This is imperative not just for the athletic program, but for the credibility, tradition, and notoriety of the college.

    David Mitchell 05'
    Kansas City, KS

  17. Paul Matasavage '81August 14, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    Well said, Doctor!
    It's time to move the program forward and reinstitute football scholarships.

  18. I am in agrrement with my fellow Crusaders. Football scholarships are a necessity and will allow HC to compete for the athletes they need to continue to grow in dominance.

    Ron DeChirico '87

  19. Well said Doctor! The PL is heading to a scholarship showdown and I believe the league will follow Fordham's example. HC should enthusiastically support this move to scholarships. Coach Gilmore has built a strong foundation that will allow HC to take full advantage of scholarships to keep his winning tradition in tact.
    Dana St. James '77

  20. Nature is about evolution and it is time that our adminstration allow changes to occur. Approve athletic scholarships for football to allow HC to reach its full potential as an institution. Scholarships will bring improvement to every aspect of the Holy Cross experience, including academics.

    Dan Adams CLass of 2007
    Boston, MA

  21. I fully support the reinstitution of football scholarships at Holy Cross.

    Steve Silva
    Class of 2006

  22. I fully support the effort to move to a scholorship program. Zach Kimball, '01

  23. I support HC football scholarships.

    Tim O'Hara
    Class of 2005

  24. I definitely support the effort to bring scholarships back to HC Football.

    Ari Confesor
    Class of '04

  25. I agree that the administration should reinstitute football scholarships. In order to keep pace with currnet changes that are taking place in education, making such a decision would ensure the continued growth of the school and its athletic programs. All aspects of the institution, that is Holy Cross, would benefit from this.

    Phil Tyburczy '97

  26. I strongly endorse the statement put forth by my friend and teammate Dr. Ciccone. Lou Holtz once said that "In the successful organization, no detail is too small to escape close attention". No one denies that the foundation of Holy Cross football revolves around the blood, sweat and tears our Crusaders shed on the field every day. However, we would be remiss if we did not strive as football alumnae, Board of Trustees, and administration to incrementally strengthen that foundation through a scholarship program to ensure these young men have a chance to bring home the championship every single year. I agree that it's time to move the program forward and reinstitute football scholarships.

    Rob Sanchez
    Class of '97

  27. I strongly support scholorships at Holy Cross.

    Those days were great !!!

    Rick Kelly '81

  28. Mickey Connolly '74August 18, 2010 at 6:42 AM

    Totally agree!!!

  29. First and foremost, I support reinstating scholarships wholeheartedly. I suspect that the primary pushback from the administration comes from the place most of these discussions usually end up, money. 63 scholarships actually means 126 (thanks, Title IX). That's 5% of the school and a cost of ~$6.3M annually and this doesn't even take into account the other sports that will bitch and moan about how they now want a few scholarships too. For the school to seriously consider this, there has to be a value proposition made that this investment would pay for itself and possibly even yield them some almighty dollars through having a higher profile, better alumni giving, etc. In this economy, it's a tough sell...I'm just sayin'.

    Duff '98

  30. I enthusiastically support bringing back scholarships to Holy Cross Football.

    - Rich Prestegaard '91

  31. I fully support the reinstitution of football scholarships at Holy Cross.

    John Carr
    Class of 2004

  32. It has been pointed out to me that my earlier post was not clear. I support the move to athletic grants in aid for football, and ask the Board of Directors to approve them. Our mission at Holy Cross has always been to pursue excellence, and it is therefore incumbent upon us to do what it takes to achieve that. In NCAA Division 1 FCS football, that requires scholarships!


    Dave Lynch, Class of 1969
    Class Representative
    Presidents Council Member

  33. Honored to add my name to the distingushed list of those that support reinstating scholarships for HC football.
    Francis McGourty,Class of 1959
    Glory Days 59

  34. I strongly agree that the time has come for Holy Cross to reinstate scholarships for HC football. Holy Cross makes has made an incredible effort to maintain our acedemic competitiveness, with overwhelming success. It's now time for us to regain our athletic dominance. Scholarships gives us the opportunity to attract the student-athletes needed to take HC football to the next level.

    Terrence Browning
    Class of 1996

  35. I fully endorse the reinstitution of football scholarships at Holy Cross.

    Bill Silvio '02

  36. Michael P. Wilkerson '99August 24, 2010 at 8:03 PM

    Reinstate scholarships for Holy Cross Football. The time is now... Thanks Dr. Ciccone and I am proud to have played by your side!

  37. Brendan Sullivan HC '86August 27, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    I support the reinstitution of football scholarships and believe there are many valid supporting statements posted on this online petition. Intelligence we can expect from Cross Alum's!

  38. While I am not an alum of HC my allegiance to the institution and its athletic programs is steadfast.

    As a boy, I played in the shadow of Fitton field and attended almost every home game during the days of Coach Carter and Coach Duffner. For road games, I was rarely past earshot of radio broadcasts. While I haven't been to many games recently, my support for Crusader football is undiminished.

    I wholehearedly support the restoration of football scholarships at HC. Such an endeavour can be successfully implemented without compromising the high standards upheld for generations at HC.

    Other similarly prestigious schools consistently maintain academic and athletic standards at an elite level. Following the example of other upper echelon insitutions, HC is capable of developing its own approach with regard to the restoration of scholarships. Scholarships that will most certainly increase the momentum of the re-emerging footbal program on Mt. Saint James.

    Expectations of HC fans ought not to be a return the Orange Bowl. Clearly that will not be the goal. On the other hand, fielding a consistently competitive team at the FCS (1-AA) level is a very attainable and worthwhile goal. There is no reason that HC football can't win a national championship having a roster full of players with 3.5 GPA's.