American Football Database
American Football Database
The Liberty Cup
Number of meetings14
Most recent meetingSeptember 19, 2015
Fordham 44, Columbia 24
All-time series10-4 Fordham
Largest victoryFordham, 52–7 (2013)
Longest win streakFordham, 6 (2010–2015)
Current streakFordham, 6 (2010–2015)

The Liberty Cup was awarded annually to the winner of the college football game between Columbia University and Fordham University, two of only three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I (D-1) football programs in New York City. Wagner College, located on Staten Island, is the third. The trophy was dedicated a year after the Columbia-Fordham game was postponed following the attacks of September 11, 2001.[1] At least 43 Columbia alumni and 39 Fordham alumni and students[2] died at the World Trade Center.[3] They included two former Fordham football players: Nick Brandemarti '00 and Kevin Szocik '97. The most recent game of the series was played in 2015.[4][5]


Despite their proximity and long football histories, the schools met only three times in the 100 years up to 1990. The first matchup took place in 1890, and another followed in 1902.[6][7] Both contests were lopsided shutout wins by Columbia.

Competing at different levels, the schools did not meet again but Fordham moved up to the Major/University level in 1928.[7] Aside from a hiatus over the 1943-1945 seasons due to World War II, Fordham stayed in the Division I ranks until the 1954 season. During that time, however, contests against Columbia and most other "Ancient Eight" teams were shunned [8] as Fordham played a more national schedule. National aspirations ended following the 1954 season when after a string of losing seasons and, citing financial concerns, Fordham folded its football program.

Varsity football was re-introduced at what is now known as the Division III level in 1970. Columbia, along with the rest of the Ivy League, still playing at what is now known as the FBS level (more like a lower level G5 FBS in terms of computer power ratings),[9] scheduled Fordham in 1972 as a replacement for Buffalo which, at the time, had temporarily terminated its football program.[10] Like their previous two contests, the 1972 affair also ended in a lopsided shutout win for the Lions. Once again, competing at different levels kept the schools from establishing a series.

After decades of poor results, Columbia, along with the entire Ivy League, was relegated into what is now known as the FCS level by the NCAA following the 1981 season. Fordham moved up to that same I-AA level prior to the 1989 season. This put the 1991 encounter between the two on a more even footing. Fordham won that fourth meeting by a 20-16 score. Columbia gained revenge in sweeping the next four contests, which were played in 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1996. After a brief hiatus, the two renewed their series in 2000, which was typically used to open Columbia's season and was usually the third game on Fordham's schedule.

Origin Of the Liberty Cup

File:LibertyCup-2015 (cropped).jpg

Liberty Trophy in 2015

The 10th meeting between Fordham and Columbia originally was scheduled for September 15, 2001. In the days following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Major League Baseball, the National Football League and many NCAA Division I teams canceled games for the following weekend. But Fordham and Columbia — the only Division I football teams in New York City at the time — debated as late as Friday, September 14, 2001 about the possibility of playing. Fordham officials wanted to send a message about American resilience in the face of the attacks, but Columbia officials argued that it was too soon to think about playing a football game. "The question was, should we not play and mourn and honor our dead, or was normalcy in the face of this disaster the best response?" said the Rev. Joseph A. O'Hare, president of Fordham at that time.[3]

The schools decided against playing on Sept. 15, but later in the season agreed to meet on Thanksgiving morning (November 22, 2001). Fordham thumped Columbia 41-10 before a surprisingly ample crowd considering the holiday and early start time. Afterwards, O'Hare said it had been the right decision to reschedule. "Oh, absolutely," he said. "I think we had put sports in perspective -- and we played great."[3]

Less than 10 months after that game, the underdog Lions gained their revenge, holding Fordham close for 59 minutes before winning with a 37-yard field goal with 10.5 seconds to play. This was the inaugural Liberty Cup game. The 13-11 victory would be Columbia’s only win of the 2002 season; Fordham would finish 10-3, gaining a share of the Patriot League title and reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Columbia Band's altar boy joke controversy

The Columbia University Marching Band drew protests from Fordham and Roman Catholics generally with an off-color double entendre reference to the priest abuse scandal during its halftime performance at the inaugural 2002 Liberty Cup game, when the Columbia band's self-appointed "Poet Laureate" read from a script over the stadium's public address system:[11]

"As well as the Mets' season going up in smoke, Fordham tuition going down like an altar boy, and the Fordham football team with a threat rating of a cute, neon pink, the band now presents an all-star gala halftime salute to more Columbia news."

In reporting the incident, The New York Times, the Associated Press, and most of the mainstream media found the reference to be too insensitive or offensive and refused to print it.[12] Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger apologized for the band's remark. The author of the joke refused to apologize.[13]

Series history

The 2003 game was a thriller, with Fordham coming out on top in a wild 37-30 game. Jerry Glanville was the color broadcaster for that game for TV as a part of the now-defunct Football Network. After CBS executives saw his work on that game, he was offered a chance to call an NFL game the following week, the Detroit Lions/San Diego Chargers game.

Columbia took the 2006 meeting, 37-7, in the most lopsided result of the cup series until Fordham defeated Columbia 52-7 in 2013. The 2006 win was the Lions' second consecutive victory over Fordham, and made Norries Wilson the first Columbia coach since Aldo T. "Buff" Donelli to win his debut. Fordham responded by winning 8 of the next 9.


In 2014, after Columbia concluded a second consecutive 0-10 season, Columbia President Lee Bollinger commissioned former Boston University head football coach Rick Taylor to review the program. The following year, Taylor recommended Columbia improve its athletic facilities, increase salaries and discontinue the Fordham series.

“They should not play Fordham when Fordham has three games and scholarships under their belt,” Taylor said. “I'd take Fordham on anytime in the middle of the season when I got games under my belt."

Columbia did not schedule Fordham after 2015.

“I would hope that some time in the next decade, Fordham comes back on the schedule,” Taylor said. “Because that will prove that we were alright, and Columbia has succeeded.” As of the 2018 season Columbia has yet to face Fordham again. Columbia has committed to other out-of-conference opponents through the 2020 season.

Pre-Liberty Cup results

Columbia held an 8-2 series lead, including meetings going back to the 19th century, before The Liberty Cup was dedicated:

Columbia victoriesFordham victories
1 October 25, 1890 Polo Grounds III, aka Brotherhood Park Columbia 40–0 ???
2 October 8, 1902 Polo Grounds II, aka Columbia Field Columbia 45–0 1,000
3 September 30, 1972 Baker Field Columbia 44–0 6,845
4 October 5, 1991 Wien Stadium Fordham 20–16 3,650
5 September 26, 1992 Jack Coffey Field Columbia 18–9 3,521
6 September 25, 1993 Wien Stadium Columbia 7–0 3,325
7 October 8, 1994 Jack Coffey Field Columbia 24–13 5,266
8 September 28, 1996 Jack Coffey Field Columbia 17–10 5,713
9 September 16, 2000 Wien Stadium Columbia 43–26 5,007
10 November 22, 2001 Jack Coffey Field Fordham 41–10 3,715
Series: Columbia leads 8–2

The Liberty Cup results

Fordham earned victories in the final six Liberty Cup contests, the longest win streak of all meetings with Columbia, giving the Rams a 10-4 Cup series lead:

Columbia victoriesFordham victories
1 September 21, 2002 Wien Stadium Columbia 13–11 3,865
2 September 20, 2003 Jack Coffey Field Fordham 37–30 6,895
3 September 18, 2004 Wien Stadium Fordham 17–14 2,176
4 September 17, 2005 Jack Coffey Field Columbia 23–17 6,912
5 September 16, 2006 Wien Stadium Columbia 37–7 4,454
6 September 15, 2007 Jack Coffey Field Fordham 27–10 3,721
7 September 20, 2008 Wien Stadium Fordham 29–22 2,304
8 September 19, 2009 Jack Coffey Field Columbia 40–28 6,449
9 September 18, 2010 Wien Stadium Fordham 16–9 4,454
10 September 17, 2011 Jack Coffey Field Fordham 21–14 6,820
11 September 22, 2012 Wien Stadium Fordham 20–13 4,318
12 September 21, 2013 Jack Coffey Field Fordham 52–7 7,026
13 September 20, 2014 Wien Stadium Fordham 49–7 4,805
14 September 19, 2015 Jack Coffey Field Fordham 44–24 8,052
Series: Fordham leads 10–4

Summaries to all games

The overall series ended with both teams deadlocked at 12 wins a piece. Combining the 24 contests Columbia outscored Fordham 527-494:


  1. [1] Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Webarchive/data' not found.
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