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As Hofstra bows out, other schools set to add football programs

Marques Colston likes keeping to himself. But when the New Orleans Saints' leading wide receiver heard that the football program at his alma mater, Hofstra, had been dropped, he issued a statement.

"I am both saddened and shocked to hear the news that the Hofstra University football program has ceased," Colston said in the statement Thursday. "I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the university, my coaches and my former teammates, and I am sure that they share in my disappointment. ...

"I will always fondly remember my collegiate days playing for the Hofstra Pride."

Hofstra's board of trustees unanimously voted Wednesday night to shut down the program, which had been in existence since the school's founding in 1937. Three other current NFL players -- Kyle Arrington of the New England Patriots, Stephen Bowen of the Dallas Cowboys and Willie Colon of the Pittsburgh Steelers -- spent their collegiate careers at Hofstra.

Hofstra announced its decision at a time when football actually is growing at the collegiate level.

While Hofstra joined Northeastern -- which fielded football for 74 years -- as the second university to close its program within the last two weeks, six schools will add the sport next season. That includes three in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision, in which Hofstra and Northeastern competed.

Georgia State, South Alabama and Lamar all will begin 2010 as FCS competitors, and Pacific, Lindsay Wilson and Notre Dame College will join the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

At least 12 schools are scheduled to add a varsity football team, revive a dormant varsity program or upgrade a team to the varsity level within the next five seasons.

The additions are all part of what has been a boom in college football participation this decade. Since 2000, 39 colleges have added football to their sports lineup. That number will rise to 45 with the 2010 crop of teams.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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