Sometimes when there are issues we do not even realize are issues, we need wild ideas to fix them! Welcome to the first installment of, “Tim’s Wild Ideas!”
Right before the pandemic hit and our lives were greatly altered, I wrote a piece for Tim’s Special Comments called, “Rochester Should Have Big Time College Athletics!”
In that column, I focused heavily on RIT because with already having Division 1 Hockey, they were in the best position to go fulltime D1. I also argued heavily for going into the Big East. It just drives me completely bonkers that our region does not have fulltime D1 athletics. Its pathetic to be perfectly honest. To know there are 350 Division 1 basketball schools and with small town such as Hamilton (Colgate) and Olean (St. Bonaventure) housing D1 universities, there is no excuse that Rochester can’t. Hell Albany has two that are fulltime D1 in UAlbany (SUNY) in the America East Conference (With Binghamton), and Siena in the MAAC (with Niagara and Canisius). Hell, Buffalo has two in Erie County in UB and Canisius and Niagara is not far and they care less than a shit about any of them. Have you ever seen a UB football game on TV? It looks like a bomb scare. I don’t even know if free wings could draw 20,000 to UB Stadium. Yet, Rochester, can’t handle D1 sports?
This is what I wrote a year ago: “A lot of it has to do with the area’s history of lacking good, big ideas, and being content with being a minor league area. While Rochester and Monroe County are New York’s Festival Capital with events like the Lilac Fest, Park Ave. Fest, Corn Hill Arts Festival, ROC City Rib Fest and so many others, it lacks regular amenities that many cities of similar size have such as casinos, real big time concert venue or a major sports team. That is not to take away from venues such as Dairen Lake, CMAC, or Del Lago, it’s just that none of them are in the county or city. The Kodak Center and Dome Arena have brought in more concerts and entertainment in recent years since coming under new management and while that is fantastic, they are not major venues that bring in the big-name attractions.”
Sporcle.com hosts a quiz for people to name the 25 smallest towns with a D1 institution. I got 10 of them right. To be fair, St. Bonaventure, NY is because the university has its own zip code and post office but Olean is still a very small city.
Do not tell me that Rochester and Monroe County cannot support Division 1 sports when there are towns a fraction of the size that have supported D1 athletics for years. The unwillingness of our four year institutions to think big and really be a force in our region just drives me insane.
This brings me to my wild idea, lets figure out how to purchase Nazareth College, rename it and convert it to D1! Why Nazareth? Being founded in 1924, it is relatively young. Also being that it is no longer Catholic, it makes it easier to appeal to the alumni/donor base. Being located conveniently in Pittsford also helps as it makes it very accessible to the city and county.
The University of Rochester has the largest endowment at over $2 billion so its too expensive and to focus on athletics would be a major change that the alumni would probably not accept.
RIT is in the same boat.
St. John Fisher is still Catholic and Roberts Wesleyan with a small endowment and alumni base, it’s Christian roots have people from all over the country come to the college so again, changing it would not appeal to the alumni.
So this leaves Nazareth. It is a beautiful campus by the way as shown in the picture below.
So why rename it? Because Nazareth doesn’t really describe the Greater Rochester Area. If were going to market this college to recruits, fans, sponsors and conferences, then we need a name that is going to make it easily recognizable.
There are many names I have thought of. Finger Lakes University, “I got the Flu at FLU!”. College of the Finger Lakes or CFL (Take that Canadian Football League!). The College of Rochester or COR, “Come grow your Core at COR!”. Genesee Valley College. Genesee Valley University. Great Rochester University, “You can Grow at GRU!”. Greater Rochester College. Take your pick.
The current nickname for Nazareth is the Golden Flyers which is essentially an eagle. I have already decided to change it. I wanted something that was local but represented the region in a fierce way. I thought of Lakers but between FLCC and Oswego (My alma mater), that was already taken. I thought of Mariners and Voyagers but I have settled on the Falcons! The Peregrine Falcon is our region’s most noted bird of prey. I thought of Ducks but they just do not portray fierceness like a Falcon.
I also want some type of watery colors so blue and grey, or blue and light blue or blue and green. I guess blue and purple to be a nod to Nazareth and to the area’s wineries.
I figure we would start small and join the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) with nearby schools Canisius and Niagara as well as Siena and other regional schools. We would start a football program and go FCS (D1AA) and heck, we can play at the soccer stadium because well, nobody else really is. We can renovate the current on campus facility for basketball to fit more D1 standards and we can also at least while in the mid-major conference, configure Blue Cross Arena where we only play at the larger end of the arena and close off the other half.
The end goal would be to get the basketball program and all the sports not named football and hockey into the Big East. The football program if big enough and good enough to go FBS, can go independent. The hockey program in which I would want to build an on campus rink (Currently play at Bill Grays Regional Iceplex at MCC) would play in Atlantic Hockey so that they could play against RIT and we can get a great rivalry going for the region.
Other than our festivals, we really do not have anything that is big time, major league that is our own. How to get the funding? I could be wrong but its about convincing sponsors that we can do this and that its a great vision forward for the alumni.
I am so sick and tired of Rochester being minor league and small time. It’s time to think big! I have other wild ideas in store that I will discuss, but the easiest way to big time is with major college sports and if RIT doesn’t have the guts then let’s take over a manageable college and make it happen.
Thanks for joining me on our first installment of “Tim’s Wild Ideas!” There are more where this came from!