St. John’s Football Alumni Committee Constructs Monument To Commemorate Now-Defunct Football Team

The Red Storm football program spanned three centuries, and it’s now recognized with a pavilion on the Queens campus.

The newly-constructed monument honoring the former members of the St. John’s football team.
Torch Photo / Brady Snyder

Visitors walking through St. John’s University’s Gate 4 entrance will notice a newly-erected structure nestled between DaSilva Memorial Field and the tennis courts: a monument commemorating the university’s former football team.

“The location was selected, more or less, because when we used to go out to practice every day, we would walk [through] that area onto the field,” said Mitch Barnett, a member of the St. John’s Football Alumni Committee. Barnett played for the University during the mid-1980s and is now part of the committee, which includes five to seven former players. 

“The idea is to keep the alumni together by having events such as reunions, golf outings and paraphernalia they can buy online,” Barnett added. “One of our goals is to have the school recognize us for being there.”

The monument currently consists of a pavilion made out of bricks inscribed with the names and numbers of alumni players. Barnett hopes this is just the start, and says there are plans to add benches and plaques in the future.

A brick honoring Joe Pritchard, a former St. John’s football player and NYPD officer killed in a 2013 car accident.
Torch Photo / Brady Snyder

Football is believed to be the first collegiate sport ever played at the University, with the team’s first season occurring in 1884. The program went on to record 238 wins, but experienced multiple shutdowns and was most recently disbanded in 2002, according to an archived version of College Football Data Warehouse’s historical database.

Though St. John’s worked with the Alumni Committee to facilitate the monument’s construction, the sport isn’t likely to return.

“Football is a really expensive sport to have, and with the Title IX concerns, it’s even more expensive to have,” said University President Brian Shanley in an interview with The Torch. “I’m not in favor of bringing it back, because [St. John’s] can’t afford it, but you want to honor the long tradition of folks [who played football].” 

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 requires gender-based equity in the participation in sports, available scholarships and other student-athlete benefits, according to the National Collegiate Athletics Association. Since football programs typically carry triple-digit rosters, schools with football teams often offer more women’s programs to reach equity, which can be costly.

Now, the Alumni Committee is focused on earning student recognition of the football team’s history with the monument. A dedication ceremony for the monument is in the works, but Barnett says there is no date set.