The SMU, or Southeastern Massachusetts University* Board of Trustees voted on February 28, 1985 to approve a proposal to develop for the first time, a Club Football Program at the university. The New England Club Football Conference operated outside of the NCAA and included, at that time, teams from Merrimack College, MIT, Roger Williams College, UMass Boston, Stonehill College, Bentley College, Providence College, Worcester State College, and Assumption College. The proposal was put forward to SMU President John Brazil in January of that year by the Dean of Students, Celestino Macedo, on behalf of the SMU student body, who originally initiated the idea. In December of 1984, SMU Student Senate had voted unanimously to establish Club Football as a student organization funded by student fees; and by January 1985 they had gathered over 2,600 signatures on a petition in support of the proposal.
With approval gained, ads went out in and in April 1985 the university hired a coaching staff. Coach Paul Harrison, who had enjoyed great success as an assistant coach of the Middleboro High School from 1970-1983 and defensive coordinator for the Dennis-Yarmouth High school football program from 1983-1984, was hired as head coach, with assistants Steve Popielarz, Charles Connell, Vin Mello and Ray Cabral.
Their first game was against Providence College, which they won 14-12. The Corsairs went on to have a winning season – six wins and two losses. Their third game, against Roger Williams, was cancelled due to Hurricane Gloria. It was rescheduled for the end of the season, but ended up negating their chances to play in the National playoffs because of the schedule conflict. They did, however, defeat Roger Williams, and shared the conference title with Providence College. The Homecoming game was October 19 against MIT, one of their two losses. At this year’s homecoming festivities, the Athletics Department and Corsairs Hall of Fame is hosting a reunion of the 1985 team, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the football program at UMD/SMU.
The Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections preserve a series of memoranda from SMU President John Brazil’s records, from 1985, with details about the proposal and early formation of the football program. The archives also maintain a souvenir program from the 1985 season, as well as several other souvenir programs, which contains a wealth of information. For questions, contact archivist Judy Farrar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Southeastern Massachusetts University is the former institutional name for UMass Dartmouth, which was used from 1969-1991.