The Football Founders Club met Wednesday April 17 to discuss fundraising for the University of West Florida’s potential football program. If the club can gather investors and the necessary funds, UWF will be on pace to start new facilities construction by early next year. Beginning with the demolition of the current tennis courts, UWF will under go a transformation that will allow the football program to launch in Fall 2015 and begin its first competitive season in Fall 2016.
“February of 2014 we have to begin site demolition at the tennis court area, so by May 1, 2014, footings and foundations begin on that first building in University Park,” said interim CEO of UWF Business Enterprises Inc. Jim Barnett.
Barnett calls the plans for the 44-acre University Park development a game-changer for UWF. A 30,000 seat stadium, student union and 1,070 beds of housing are a few key additions that would be coming to campus as part of the development. The tennis courts would be moved to the east side of campus, near the soccer field.
UWF President Judy Bense acknowledged that the fundraising process will be challenging for her 22 football-founders and encouraged them in their hunt for investors.
“This is the kind of risk you football founders are going to have to decide to take, or not,” Bense said.
The chair has broke down the fundraising into three phases for the founders club. “Kickoff Support” is the first phase, which has a goal of $1.5 million that will go toward the football equipment. $375,000 for strength and conditioning equipment, $127,500 to outfit the entire team and $4,600 on footballs are a few of the levels of kickoff support. Generating this $1.5 million by the end of this May will move the founders to the next level of funding, and make-way for Bense to address the progress of the football program,
“I want to announce this June that we will play conference football in 2016,” Bense said.
Following kickoff support the next level of funds will go toward program costs, a $2.2 million expense that includes the coaching salaries, recruitment and administrative support. Unlike kickoff support, program costs will be an annual expense, mostly consisting of salaries. Program costs are based on five home games and five away games per season.
“Typically in Division II you have a head coach and six assistants. We’ve cut out the sixth assistant,” said Athletic Director Dave Scott.
Argonaut athletics has decided to make a cut in this category, saving over $30,000 according to data compiled from Gulf South Conference football programs.
Generating the $2.2 million of program costs before August 2015 is a must for the founders, and would put the program in position to begin a year of practices and scrimmages.
The third and final fundraising phase is facilities. This phase does not have a goal yet, because the first two phases have not yet been fulfilled.
With new facilities come new opportunities for fundraising. The founders were presented with a list of facility naming opportunities including the football stadium, press box and sports medicine facility. Brett
Berg, assistant athletic director for development, also encouraged founders to reach out to investors who may want to put their names on a piece of UWF.
“Its never going to get any cheaper than this, that’s a pretty good analogy.” Berg said. “Over time the facilities expenses will grow, thus the cost of naming opportunities will grow as well.”