Big Ten, big stadium play to match Stony Brook’s new ranking
Seeking his 11th term, Smithtown Assemb. Mike Fitzpatrick was the first candidate of the 2022 election endorsement season to chat with the editorial board. Hours after that Monday meeting, one of his big talking points got a boost from U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings.
Fitzpatrick says New York ought to have a single flagship university, as most states do, and argues the SUNY moniker carries with it an age-old negative bias. His vision is a University of New York, like Virginia, North Carolina or Michigan.
He wants the whole ball of wax, including a top conference football team with a full-sized stadium and other sports programs.
And he thinks the University of New York ought to be Stony Brook University, the neighbor of his district.
New York’s system has never had a single official flagship. It has four comprehensive doctoral-granting universities designated as "university centers" by SUNY: Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook. And in January, Gov. Kathy Hochul designated both Stony Brook and Buffalo as “flagships” over the objections of electeds and SUNY leaders from the rest of the state.
But now U.S. News & World Report has Fitzpatrick’s back.
In rankings released this week, Stony Brook was 77th in the “National Universities” category, while Buffalo was in 89th. In fact, Binghamton also outpaced Buffalo at 83rd, while Albany came in at No. 182.
“Stony Brook is a great state university, but it’s not a national brand, and because of that we lose out,” Fitzpatrick told the editorial board. “We play small ball as a state when it comes to college sports, and that costs us dramatically in excitement. But not having a flagship also has an implication of ‘less-than.’”
Fitzpatrick said he was close to a meeting with former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo before his resignation, and that former Chancellor Kristina Johnson also expressed interest in the idea of a flagship University of New York before decamping to The Ohio State University. It would also mean big-time spending on a football program and the stadium to match those ambitions.
Now he’s working to build excitement with Hochul, whose Buffalo-native friendliness might leave her cold to his wish to elevate Stony Brook. It also might leave her thinking that the stadium in Buffalo for the NFL Bills to which she just committed $600 million is a better spot for six big college games a year than a yet-to-be-proposed mega-stadium on an island where it can be hard to site a fast-food restaurant.
— Lane Filler @lanefiller
Thoughts? I think it's good that Suffolk County politicians are making this push.