The Liberty Cup

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The Liberty Cup
Columbia Lions C Wordmark.gif Fordham Rams Script Logo.jpg
Columbia Lions Fordham Rams

Sport(s) Football
Total meetings 22
Series record Columbia leads, 12–11
Trophy series record Fordham leads, 9–4
First meeting October 25, 1890
Columbia 40, Fordham 0
First trophy meeting September 21, 2002
Columbia 13, Fordham 11
Last meeting September 20, 2014
Fordham 49, Columbia 7
Largest win Columbia, 45–0 (1902) & Fordham, 52–7 (2013)
Longest win streak Columbia, 5 (1992–2000)
Current win streak Fordham, 5 (2010–present)
Trophy The Liberty Cup
The Liberty Cup is located in New York City
Columbia University
Columbia University
Fordham University
Fordham University
Locations in New York City

The Liberty Cup is awarded annually to the winner of the college football game between Columbia University and Fordham University, the oldest remaining and two of the only three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I football programs in New York City (Wagner College in the borough of Staten Island is the third). The trophy was dedicated in 2002, a year after the Columbia-Fordham game was postponed due to the attacks of September 11, 2001. [1] At least 43 Columbia alumni and 39 Fordham alumni and students[1] died at the World Trade Center,[2] including two former Fordham football players: Nick Brandemarti '00 and Kevin Szocik '97.


Despite their proximity and long football histories, the schools met only three times in the 100 years from 1890 until 1991 (1890, 1902, and a Division III Fordham team was fielded in 1972), with Columbia shutting out Fordham each time. However, for 35 of those years the Rams did not have a Division 1 team to field against the Lions. Fordham folded its football program in 1954 citing financial concerns, until 1970 when it was re-introduced at the Division III level. The Rams would not play at the Division I level again until 1989. Fordham won the fourth meeting, in 1991, 20-16.

The teams have played annually since 2000. The Liberty Cup game now opens Columbia's season; it is typically the third game on Fordham's schedule. As of the 2013 meeting, Fordham leads the series 8-4.

Origin Of the Liberty Cup[edit]

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—two of the three Division I football teams in New York City—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 after the attacks 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.[2]

The schools decided against playing on Sept. 15, but later in the season agreed to meet on Thanksgiving Day (November 22, 2001). Fordham thumped Columbia 41-10 before a capacity crowd of 7,000 fans. 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."[2]

Less than 10 months after that game, the underdog Lions gained their revenge, holding Fordham close for 59 minutes and 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 second round of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Columbia Band's altar boy joke controversy[edit]

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: [2]:

"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.[3] Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger apologized for the band's remark. The author of the joke refused to apologize.[4]

Recent history[edit]

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.

As of the 2014 meeting, Fordham leads the series 9-4.

The Liberty Cup results[edit]

As of the 2011 season Fordham became the first team to earn two or more consecutive wins three times, and in 2013 the first to earn four consecutive victories, leading the series 8-4. Fordham has led the series six times, Columbia two.

Year Winning Team Losing Team Location Series Summary
2002 Columbia 13 Fordham 11 Manhattan COL 1–0 Recap
2003 Fordham 37 Columbia 30 The Bronx 1–1 Recap
2004 Fordham 17 Columbia 14 Manhattan FOR 2–1 Recap
2005 Columbia 23 Fordham 17 The Bronx 2–2 Recap
2006 Columbia 37 Fordham 7 Manhattan COL 3–2 Recap
2007 Fordham 27 Columbia 10 The Bronx 3–3 Recap
2008 Fordham 29 Columbia 22 Manhattan FOR 4–3 Recap
2009 Columbia 40 Fordham 28 The Bronx 4–4 Recap
2010 Fordham 16 Columbia 9 Manhattan FOR 5–4 Recap
2011 Fordham 21 Columbia 14 The Bronx FOR 6–4 Recap
2012 Fordham 20 Columbia 13 Manhattan FOR 7–4 Recap
2013 Fordham 52 Columbia 7 The Bronx FOR 8–4


2014 Fordham 49 Columbia 7 Manhattan FOR 9–4

Results of all meetings[edit]

Including meetings going back to the 19th century, before the Liberty Cup was dedicated, Columbia leads the all-time series 12–10.

  • 2001 Fordham 41, Columbia 10 [3]
  • 2000 Columbia 43, Fordham 26 [4]
  • 1996 Columbia 17, Fordham 10 [5]
  • 1994 Columbia 24, Fordham 13 [6]
  • 1993 Columbia 7, Fordham 0 [7]
  • 1992 Columbia 18, Fordham 9 [8]
  • 1991 Fordham 20, Columbia 16 [9]
  • 1972 Columbia 44, Fordham 0
  • 1902 Columbia 45, Fordham 0
  • 1890 Columbia 40, Fordham 0


  1. ^ Fordham University Remembers 9/11
  2. ^ a b c Berkow, Ira. "Reflections on Making the Proper Decision Over Postponing a Game." The New York Times Sept. 12, 2002.
  3. ^ Wolper, Allan. The Joke Unfit to Print Editor & Publisher Journal. October 15, 2002.
  4. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. "Columbia U. Head Apologizes To Fordham Over Public Gibe." The New York Times Sept. 25, 2002.