Football first appeared at St. Bonaventure in 1890 with three teams, one for each department: the Post-Graduate, the College and the High School which established the intramural program.
The first game that was on record for occurring was on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, 1892. Special trains were run from Olean, Bradford and the surrounding areas to bring in spectators. 1983 was the fist listing of modern American football positions for the players in the college bulletin. The intramural program continued between various classes but no official college play was documented between the mid-1890’s and 1903.
On September 17, 1903, Father Joseph Butler who was president of the college at the time noticed that there was a large majority of students who were in favor of reinstating a varsity, or intercollegiate team.
In 1906 and 1909 the Brown and White were undefeated in their season. In the 1909 season, no one actually ever scored against the Bonnies.
October 7, 1939 was a big day for St. Bonaventure football, it was the first time that a major St. Bonaventure sports event was telecasted and it was also the second time that a football game had been telecasted. The Bonnies played against Manhattan College where they lost to the Jaspers 6-0. Sportscasters Bill Stern and Mel Allen called the game for station W2XBS which was sponsored by NBC.
Following the war the enrollment for the university increased greatly and there was a push for young men to come and join the ranks of such a good team. Also significant was that local businessman and former mayor Fred Forness announced his donation of up to $100,000 to build a new stadium on the St. Bonaventure campus.
The first game was played on Forness Stadium on Sept. 28, 1946 against Youngstown. Although St. Bonaventure lost 20-14, over 35,000 spectators watched the Brown Indians beat Canisius College. 1946 was also the only year that the Bonnies made it into the post-season.
Although the team had prospered through the years and drawn many spectators and fans, the financial aspect of the sport was just too much for a school the size of St. Bonaventure to handle. Father Juvenal Lalor, the president of the university at the time, announced in Feb. 1952 that the Board of Trustees had voted to end the football program after 60 years.