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Letters for Aug. 31

Division I athletics have broad community impact

I would like to commend The Buffalo News sports staff for its focus on the value that intercollegiate athletics provides an institution and the community in its recent review of the University at Buffalo’s athletic mission.

It would, however, be shortsighted to overlook the broader impact that the four local Division I athletic departments provide Western New York. Each year almost 25 percent of the rosters from the four local Division I institutions have student-athletes that hail from Section VI.

College athletics plays a vital role in the local economy by providing reasonably priced entertainment opportunities, while providing academic and athletic experiences for our most valuable resource – aspiring college-educated young people.

For the NCAA Division I program that calls the City of Buffalo home, our mission is one that continues to be realized through the efforts of our student-athletes. In the last 10 years, Canisius teams have combined to win 36 conference or regional championships and earn 13 NCAA postseason appearances. In 2012-13, the College became the first Division I school in Western New York to send three teams (baseball, hockey and women’s lacrosse) to the NCAA Tournament in the same athletic year. That year also saw four programs win conference titles and the men’s basketball program earn 20 wins and earn its first postseason appearance since 1996, an accomplishment it duplicated again this past year.

Canisius has had a total of 15 former student-athletes drafted into the professional ranks since 2005, and the college currently boasts alumni in the NHL (Cory Conacher with the New York Islanders) and MLB (John Axford with the Pittsburgh Pirates). Just a few weeks ago, five former Canisius men’s lacrosse players helped Team Canada win gold in the World Lacrosse Championships, including head coach Randy Mearns. College athletics is alive and well in Buffalo, and as we watch the energy and excitement around the revitalization of Buffalo and our Golden Griffins hockey program’s new home at HarborCenter, it gives college sports fans another tremendous venue to watch student-athletes compete.

At Canisius, we are proud of our student-athletes accomplishments, as their Division I athletic participation is a wonderful opportunity to bring distinction to Canisius and all of Western New York.

Bill Maher

Director of Athletics

Canisius College

Bills look bad enough to get first pick, but …

Preseason means nothing in the standings. However, if it did, the Buffalo Bills are playing their hand early.

Run for the bus might come sooner than most fans envision. Unless the team does a total reversal during the upcoming season, they could actually be playing for the number one draft pick over all the next season.

Oh, I forgot ... we don’t have a number one, we traded ours! Pass the pitcher of beer.

Tony Hammill

Buffalo

‘Manuel’ transmission needs to be traded in

Memo to Buffalo Bills Brass: Our “manuel” transmission is not working. It’s time to trade it in for a hybrid automatic.

Joe Sikorski

Hamburg

‘Franchise quarterback’ instills little hope

The first Bills home preseason game of the year was a new low for me as a Bills fan. As a season ticket holder, I am always filled with the hope that “this is the year.” Imagine my shock when the children who played at halftime scored more points than the Bills did.

Doug Marrone said this week that it will take EJ a while to become a “franchise quarterback.” The first step in that process would be to complete a pass without having your receiver need a stepladder to catch it. The next would be to be more decisive in the pocket. The third would be to stretch the field. The Bills have some of the most exciting receivers in the NFL, if only they had someone to throw them the ball.

Then, please be prepared for the rush and hang on to the ball if sacked. EJ Manuel is one of the most confident, well spoken, charismatic players in the NFL. I just hope he can translate that into positive play. Soon. Otherwise the new owner will be looking for a new “franchise quarterback” and coach and GM and ...

Maureen Szczepanski

Lockport

Bills’ survival does not depend on Canadian fans

I’m tired of hearing how the Bills need the Canadian fans to survive and how the location of the Ralph is not convenient for them.

I’ve been a season ticket holder for many years and I would venture to say for over 30 years of tailgating in the parking lots and talking to people in the stadium, there isn’t the volume of Canadian fans that were being told there is.

Sure we do get some fans from across the border but not the amount that justify spending millions to build a stadium closer for them. Not to mention Ellicottville is a popular destination for our Canadian neighbors and they have no problem getting there on the 219 expressway, which goes right by The Ralph.

The Bills team colors are red, white and blue, not white with a red maple leaf. The Bills are an American team supported by hard working people of this country.

Chris Cerne

North Collins

Pegula at cross-purposes with Murray and Nolan

The last shall be first. At least that’s the rationale of the Sabres owner who manifested his desire for the number one pick next year, Connor McDavid, no matter what it takes.

Imagine the mixed feelings of the GM and coach. The GM didn’t even seek an established goaltender. Ted Nolan wants to win every game because that’s who he is. Multiple Stanley Cups are multiple years away.

Another wait til next year. How do you persuade fans to come to games when the owner desires losses rather than wins. With a loss, Pegula cheers and fans boo. Why would you even spend your hard earned money watching this fiasco this year.

Paul DiVito

Amherst

Send comments to Sports Talk, The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240. Letters may also be sent via fax to 849-4587 or email to sports@buffnews.com. Letters should be limited to 250 words and are subject to editing. Include name, hometown and a phone number for verification.