JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The University of North Florida is taking the exploratory steps on the possibility of starting a football program.
UNF President John Delaney sent a letter out to the campus community and the Board of Trustees, asking for their input.
Delaney says this is only an exploratory move and right now, there's no commitment to a football team.
Students on campus are excited.
"I am very enthusiastic about the football program if it is passed by the Board of Trustees," said Alexandra Castro, a UNF sophomore. "Football has always been a part of my life. I've been a cheerleader for 11 1/2 years. I love football so to go to a school with a football program would just be amazing."
Action News will talk with Delaney about his plans tomorrow. Check back for additional information tomorrow afternoon.
Here is the letter from Delaney in its entirety:
Today I asked the Board of Trustees for permission to begin discussions with faculty and students about the possibility of starting a football program at UNF. A number of universities within Florida and also others within our conference are looking at adding football teams. This may negatively impact UNF's current athletic conference alignment and may open up opportunities at the same time. This is exploratory only, and not a commitment to adding football.
I have long said that a Florida public university needs enrollment of about 25,000 students to properly support football. And most schools of that size do indeed have football. Thus football is probably inevitable for UNF at some point. But our Athletic policy has always been that no academic resources can be used to support Athletics, and that we will not lower our academic admission standards. In short, Athletics has to support itself financially and not negatively impact the school academically. We are simply examining the pros, cons, costs and ramifications and doing preliminary due diligence.
With the athletic conference realignments, and with other Florida schools and others in our conference considering adding football, the landscape is changing dramatically. What was premature just a few month ago is a timely investigation now. This clearly is not an opportune time economically, but we have a duty to look at all options.
There will be plenty of opportunity for input once we get a few more details.
Again, we are at the very early stages of this discussion and analysis. As we look into this option, we seek feedback from students, faculty, staff, alums, donors, volunteers and the community at large. This will be a long process with ample opportunity to weigh the pros and cons. We go into this knowing the possibility of having a football team at UNF will be a hotly-debated topic on campus and in the community. Please know I am committed to doing what's right for UNF.