UNCC trustees approve football program

UNCC Chancellor Philip L. Dubois
UNCC Chancellor Philip L. Dubois

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Board of Trustees for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have approved a plan to start a football team at the school.

The trustees unanimously approved the Chancellor's recommendation during their meeting Thursday morning.

The first football season at UNCC could begin as early as 2013.

It will cost about $45 million dollars for the football program.  Of that amount, $25 million would be used to construct a football stadium and the remaining $20 million would be necessary for training facilities.

The University has already collected 4,100 pledges from individuals or organizations willing to help pay for the program.

The Chancellor said the University will rely heavily on ticket sales and donors to pay for this operation.

Eventually, UNCC would like to build a football stadium on campus but they are looking into retrofitting Memorial Stadium located outside Center City Charlotte for the team to use initially.

WBTV's Steve Crump will have more on this story on WBTV News at 5 p.m.

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(The following is Chancellor Philip Dubois' statement to the UNCC Board of Trustees.)

Statement of Chancellor Philip L. Dubois

Concerning His Recommendation for Initiation of an

Intercollegiate Football Program at UNC Charlotte

November 13, 2008

Chair Shaw and Members of the Board:

On September 18, I recommended to you that UNC Charlotte begin an intercollegiate football program in the fall of 2013 by applying for entry into the Football Championship Subdivision of the NCAA (formerly known as Division I-AA).  In the two months that have passed since I made that recommendation, I have not changed my mind.

Because we have discussed this issue in some detail, I will not review the reasons for my recommendation once again.  However, let me highlight some of the pertinent details.

Initiation of a football program would require the assessment of a student fee beginning in the fall of 2010.  It is my proposal that the fee begin initially at $25 per semester for the 2010-2011 academic year, be increased to $50 per semester for each of the next two years, and then be increased to $100 per semester (or $200 per year) in the first year of competition (2013-2014).

Of course, these fees would be approved by this Board and by the Board of Governors on an annual basis through our established process for the approval of tuition and fees.  As I mentioned last time, it is not expected that these fees would require any exception to the so-called "fee cap" prescribed by the Board of Governors' fee policy.

A second major consideration in my recommendation is that we will need to find a solution to the problem of funding the total cost of facilities we will require.  As we discussed in September, we estimate the total cost of those facilities to be approximately $45.3 million, the largest components of which include a sports building of just over $20 million and an on-campus stadium of almost $21 million.

There is no meaningful alternative to the sports building which will house offices for coaches, training facilities, and academic and administrative support.  But there is an alternative to an on-campus stadium, and we have initiated productive conversations with county administrative officials about whether a lower-cost investment in a renovation of Memorial Stadium might give UNC Charlotte a place to play for the first few years of its football future.  That partnership could conceivably involve Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as it considers the creation of a Second Ward high school.

As we move forward with our capital fundraising for football, we will pursue both the on-campus option and the Memorial Stadium option and have indicated to the county administration that we wish to maintain the flexibility to move in either direction depending upon how our fundraising proceeds.

With respect to that fundraising, I will mention again my recommendation that an important component of our plan ought to be an insistence that there be broad grassroots participation in the support of any football program that we might start.  I said it in September and I'll say it in November--those who say they want football are going to have to help pay for football.

Athletic Director Judy Rose is prepared to have our colleagues from Luquire George Andrews talk with you about a marketing plan for the idea I presented in September about the sale of Forty-Niner Seat Licenses (or FSLs).  At that time, I suggested these might be sold for

$1,000 and that we sell 5,000 of these licenses within 6 months in order to move forward.

Well, I'm pleased to tell you that, since the time of that announcement, we have had expressions of interest for more than 4,000 of these seat licenses.  And this has occurred without any marketing whatever, particularly to our core audience of 49er Club members.  I'll leave it to Judy to tell you a little bit more about this later.

We have also sought and received professional advice that suggests we may want to refine our thinking about the pricing, transferability, and other details of the seat license program.  We still need several weeks to work out those details and the detailed legal contracts that are required to sell seat licenses.  But the general concept is still sound.  Assuming we announce sometime in January the formal availability for sale of FSLs, we should sell 5,000 seat licenses by June 30 in order to move forward with our decision to have intercollegiate football at UNC Charlotte.  Even in this challenging economic environment, I believe this is achievable.

Even with a successful FSL program, it is important to remember that this would generate only a small proportion of the $45.3 million we will need.  I believe it would be prudent for the Board to ask me to report periodically on our fundraising progress, of course.  Certainly we need to make significant progress by the fall of 2010, knowing that we have to have the sports complex in place by the fall of 2012.

Finally, as you will recall, my recommendation included a phased approach with respect to our obligations under Title IX, beginning with women's lacrosse in 2016, field hockey in 2019, and a third sport in 2023.  My proposal would also defer implementation of a marching band program for three or four years depending upon budget conditions.

Chair Shaw, Members of the Board, I'll close by saying that this has been a long process, exceeded in length perhaps only by the recent presidential campaign.  In fact, as you know, just about 10 days ago, we were privileged on this campus to host the election-eve rally of candidate and now President-Elect Barack Obama.

Now, as you may have heard, I was in Israel and not able to attend.  Well, as it happens, I really was here and I asked for a portion of the President-Elect's time so I could pass off this recommendation to you.  So, here it is..... it's all yours.