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UTSA receives go ahead to add football on Thursday

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics Communications
Release: 10/29/2009
Courtesy UTSA Athletics Communications
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Athletics Director Lynn Hickey meets with the media following Thursday's announcement.
AUSTIN — The University of Texas Board of Regents approved UTSA’s Athletic Initiative Business Plan on Thursday, which grants the university permission to add a football program.

The plan calls for UTSA to develop an $84 million competitive athletics complex, add an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS/formerly Division I-AA) football program with the intent to advance football and the athletics department’s existing 16 intercollegiate programs to an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS/formerly Division I-A) conference.

The Athletic Initiative directly supports the University’s academic mission as outlined in its strategic plan, A Shared Vision UTSA 2016.

UTSA will fund the Athletic Initiative through student fees, corporate and private support and other revenue streams that do not draw from the institutional academic budget. In September 2007, UTSA students overwhelmingly supported a referendum to expand the athletics program and double the Athletics Fee over the next five to seven years from $10 per semester credit hour up to $20 per semester hour, capped at 12 semester credit hours.  

The university’s intent behind adding football is to engage current students at new levels by providing them an enhanced and more complete university experience and draw former students and the San Antonio community closer to the University and its continued development towards national research university status. Approximately 80 percent of the university’s 76,000 alumni continue to live in the immediate area.

The University of Texas at San Antonio is one of the fastest growing higher education institutions in Texas and the second largest of nine academic universities and six health institutions in the UT System.  As a multicultural institution of access and excellence, UTSA aims to be a premier public research university providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA serves more than 28,400 students in 64 bachelor’s, 46 master’s and 21 doctoral degree programs in the colleges of Architecture, Business, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Honors, Liberal and Fine Arts, Public Policy, Sciences and Graduate School. Founded in 1969, UTSA is an intellectual and creative resource center and a socioeconomic development catalyst for Texas and beyond.

UTSA Athletic Initiative Business Plan

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) desires to improve its athletics program to enhance the student experience, strengthen ties to alumni and the community, and create a new University peer structure for both academics and athletics.  Following is a summary of the strategies to achieve these objectives:

Strategy 1 —
Develop an $84 million competitive Athletic Complex. The University’s current 50-year master planning process recently identified the 125-acre site acquired in April 2007 as the prime location for a proposed 60-acre, $84 million Athletic Complex. The University desires to relocate existing athletics facilities to utilize current locations near the core of the 1604 campus for future classrooms, faculty offices, research and teaching labs, student recreation, administration offices and residential halls. The fully developed complex will include NCAA Division I-A quality stadiums for baseball, softball, soccer, track & field and tennis, along with practice fields, a team building and related infrastructure. A request for University of Texas System Board of Regents approval is being requested for Phase 1 of the Complex. City and county voters approved $22.1 million for construction of track & field and soccer facilities in Phase 1, along with necessary infrastructure. Additional phases will be constructed as external funding is identified.

Strategy 2 — Add a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS/formerly Division I-AA) football program. Based upon the community’s long-standing support of high school, college and professional football, the university believes there is sufficient season ticket and donor support for an NCAA FCS football program. San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the country and the largest without either a Division I-A collegiate program or a National Football League franchise. In September 2007, students voted overwhelmingly to double the athletics fee during the next five-to-seven years to add football and move to the next level of NCAA competition. The first fee increases were approved by the Board of Regents in March 2008. A $15 million fundraising initiative will be announced upon Regents approval of this plan. Fee increases and fundraising will provide annual operation budget levels sufficient to sustain a football program in the Southland Conference, UTSA's current FCS conference affiliation. The university plans to play football in the city-owned Alamodome. With appropriate funding identified, the university will hire a head coach and assistants beginning in 2009 and play an independent football schedule in 2011.

Strategy 3 —
Advance the university’s existing 16 intercollegiate sports programs to an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS/formerly Division I-A) conference. A university’s public perception is based in part upon its athletics prominence and associated national visibility. Joining an FBS-level conference will build equity in a UTSA degree by associating the university with institutions of similar enrollment, academic standing and community size. This strategy will take several years of growth and ultimately will require a conference invitation and Board of Regents approval. The university’s fiscal year 2008 annual athletics budget was approximately $8.5 million. An invitation from the Sun Belt, Conference USA or another FBS conference will require an annual operations budget of more than $20 million, a men’s basketball program that competes for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid annually, a competitive football program and improved athletics facilities. Until it meets these objectives and is invited to join an FBS conference, UTSA will continue to compete for Southland Conference and NCAA Division I National Championships in its 16 existing sports and for the FCS Championship in football. 

Budget Requirements (Millions)

Requirement *

* $3 million for football practice facilities is included in the $15 million fundraising initiative

Football Timeline
December 18, 2008: University of Texas System Board of Regents approve UTSA’s Athletics Initiative Business Plan, granting permission to add a football program.
March 6, 2009:
Larry Coker introduced as head football coach.
April 15, 2009:
Mike Menefee, Eric Roark and David Ross hired as assistant football coaches.
February 3, 2010:
Sign first recruiting class.
Spring 2010:
Hire additional staff.
August 2010:
Begin practice.
Fall 2011:
Play independent football schedule for first season.
Fall 2012:
Play independent football schedule for second season.
Fall 2013:
Play Southland Conference football schedule.

Attainable Conferences
Southland Conference — Central Arkansas, Lamar, McNeese State, Nicholls, Northwestern State, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas State, UT Arlington, UTSA.

Sun Belt Conference — Arkansas State, Denver, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, New Orleans, Arkansas-Little Rock, North Texas, South Alabama, Troy, Western Kentucky

Western Athletic Conference — Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Nevada, San Jose State, Utah State

Conference USA — East Carolina, Houston, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, SMU, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Tulsa, UCF (Central Florida),  UAB (Alabama-Birmingham), UTEP (Texas-El Paso)

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