Tag Archive | "football"

UWF football to kick off inaugural season at the Maritime Park

By Scott Pauley

The University of West Florida and the Community Maritime Park Associates have announced a deal to allow UWF’s football team to play its inaugural season in 2016 at the Pensacola Bayfront Stadium, the home of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

The proposed agreement will allow UWF to move forward with plans to start football in 2016 by eliminating the need to have a stadium built on campus before the season begins, thereby reducing the startup costs of a new football team.

“Many of the details of the agreement are being worked out, but the terms as of now are that UWF will pay the CMPA $5,000 per game to rent the facility and the CMPA will receive $1 for every ticket sold,” said Matt Rowley, director of athletic communications for UWF, in an email. “The concessions part of the agreement is still unclear because that information will be addressed in an agreement with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and the CMPA. The agreement is in concept and has yet to be finalized.”

The stadium will seat about 5,000 people with the proposed configuration for UWF’s games. UWF President Judy Bense said the Bayfront Stadium was designed to be a multiple-use stadium and was created with the idea of eventually bringing football teams into it.

Rowley mentioned the university would try to accommodate students with transportation to the games.

In addition to this announcement for football, the UWF Board of Trustees passed a resolution Friday supporting the plan to bring football to the school in 2016. This step will allow UWF to continue on the path to include interviewing and hiring a coaching staff by spring 2014.

The first class of student-athletes will enroll in fall 2015, and will begin practicing and scrimmaging to prepare for the inaugural season the following fall.

The long-term plan for football calls for coaches offices, practice fields, strength and conditioning areas and locker rooms to accommodate football. In the immediate future, coaches offices will be located in the Field House.

Bense also said the school is more than halfway to the goal of raising $1.4 million to start the hiring process and field a team. The money came from donors who will be named at a later date, and the savings from the athletic fees that students pay with tuition.

“As our enrollment has grown, part of the athletic fee has gone to athletics, and Athletic Director Dave Scott has been squirreling away some of that money for football,” Bense said.

At a meeting of the UWF Football Founders Committee on Tuesday, Bense said she decided to “stop beating her head against the wall” while trying to gain funding for football from the state legislature. UWF will now look for funding primarily from private donations in addition to the budget from the athletic fees.

“Private giving through the Argonaut Athletic Club supplements the program budgets for the current sports, and private giving will be essential to the football budget as well,” Rowley said, but added that no cuts have been made to current sports budgets because of football.

The budget for the football program will be funded on a yearly basis. Funds will come from current athletic fees, scholarships, private donations, corporate sponsors and ticket sales. The budget is expected to grow each year leading up to the 2016 season.

“The program budget for football will be similar to the budgets for UWF’s current sports in many ways,” Rowley said. “None of UWF’s current sports are fully-funded with the maximum number of scholarships, and football will be the same.”

The current plan with the CMPA does not call for any new fees associated with football.

Current athletic fees have been increased to expand sports at UWF, including women’s swimming and diving.

Bense spoke to the CMPA about her vision for the inaugural season and painted a picture of the spectacle that she hopes football in historic downtown Pensacola will be.

“I was thinking the other day about our homecoming parade, our first one, and I can see it coming down Palafox Street,” Bense said. “I can see it with our first marching band. I can see it with our first drum corp. I can see it with our cheerleaders, with high school bands flanking us, and we’re going to have a heck of a time in downtown Pensacola.”

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Football coming in fall ’16

Get ready for some football in 2016!

Get ready for some football in 2016!

By Brian Achatz

It seems like yesterday when University of West Florida President Judy Bense announced the vision for student life enhancement in fall 2011.

Two years later, the timeline for UWF football has solidified. Since 2011, UWF has increased its total to 71 Gulf South Conference championships and seven national championships. A football program would take UWF athletics to the next level.

“That’s one of the things our students lacked: the collegiate experience,” Bense said.

Bense announced that UWF will begin the hiring process for a head coach in January and will be playing Gulf South Conference football in fall 2016. Students and the community would notice an impact following the start of program. Weekends would be centered on game days, and the campus would have a new feel during the week.

Part of the UWF vision for student life includes a 44-acre university parkthat would include a 30,000-seat stadium, a student union and 1070 beds of student housing to campus.

“Football is part of student life,” Bense said. “We are not going to add any new fees for the students.”

Although the stadium is part of the university’s long-term plan, Bense said it was not a priority at this time.

“First thing we need is a practice field, second thing we need is a training facility for the players and coaches,” Bense said. “There are plenty of places to play in Pensacola.”

While fundraising can be a daunting task, Athletic Director Dave Scott and Bense are confident the Football Founders Club will rise to the challenge.

“It’s hard to get people to buy into a dream that doesn’t have a time frame,” Scott said. “Now that we have a date it will be easier to get people to jump on board.”

UWF will be the only public university in the state with a Division II football program in fall 2016. This distinction would be advantageous for regional recruiting for the university. Florida Tech and Stetson both have programs in the state, but are private institutions.

“We have patterned some things off of Florida Tech, who has sold out their inaugural season seating of 5,000 seats,” Scott said. “Football is about taking our institution to the next level.”

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Time to share your thoughts with the administration

Since President Judy Bense’s announcement at the beginning of the semester, a football program and other student life enhancements have been widely discussed on campus and in the community. Rumors have swirled concerning student fees and timelines, and no one seems to know what is fact or fiction.

That’s where the town hall meeting on Dec. 1 comes in. The administration is giving students a chance to ask questions, and they’re offering the answers. Students, this is your opportunity to let your voice be heard, and we at The Voyager are encouraging you to take it.

A few members of the administration took the time to sit down with the Voyager staff on Monday to discuss the plan and its most recent developments. See the story on Page 1 to learn more about the progress being made.

For now, students can rest assured that no fees are currently going to pay for the programs and facilities included in the student life enhancement plan. Many students have said that they don’t want to pay for programs and facilities they won’t get to enjoy.

We at The Voyager feel that, while it is a good point, Matt Altier, the vice president of Administrative Affairs, also made a good point when he said the plan could help everyone connected to the University of West Florida, even alumni. As the University grows and potentially gains national recognition, the value of a UWF degree will increase, which could help graduates as they look for careers in other states.

We encourage the administration to continue its efforts to keep the student body informed as decisions are made and definite plans are put into place, and we urge the students to let their voices be heard.

— The Voyager


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Campus divided about football

The plan to bring football to the University of West Florida has people talking, and opinions on the program are split among both students and faculty.

Faculty Union President Susan Walch said that a recent faculty union poll showed opinions on the program were split nearly evenly among faculty.

“Big sports can create big problems,” said Matthew Schwartz, associate professor and department chair in environmental studies. “But I have seen sports being a very useful part of the academic life at universities.”

Schwartz said that this was a time of growing pains for the university, but he remained optimistic that the football program would be integrated with the academic vision of UWF.

“I certainly want to see us balance meaningful growth with our natural setting,” Schwartz said. “And not just our natural setting, but our academic setting.”

The university is in the process of drafting an academic plan for the next five to 10 years. The Strategic Academic Visioning and Empowerment Committee is supposed to complete the plan by Oct. 1, according to the Academic Visioning website.

As with faculty, student opinions run both directions.

“UWF is not a sports-oriented campus, and I doubt that fact will change just because of a football team,” Rebekah Johansen, a graduate assistant for the Writing Skills Laboratory, said.

Although some students may not see UWF as sports-oriented, the university has a history of success.

UWF has produced 266 All-Americans, won 10 individual national championships, 59 GSC Championships, and six national championships in its history.

However, not all students care about sports.

“I hate it,” Marla Wankowski, a sophomore majoring in archaeology and anthropology, said. “I came here because there was no football team.”

“I think it’s safe to say that the average UWF student chose the school for the beautiful scenery, the academic focus and the affordable cost,” Johansen said. “Damaging all three of those for a Division II football team is not wise.”

However, the enhancement plan does not directly affect academics.

Other students’ primary concern is how much money would be coming out of their pockets.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Shaun Ferguson, a sophomore engineering technology major, said. “But tuition is probably going to go up a lot more to pay for it, and do we as a student body really want more expensive tuition?”

Currently, the administration has not announced a plan to pay for the enhancments.

Bense said during a press conference earlier in the year that student fees would not be increased during the coming school year.

Despite concerns from some students, you do not have to look far to find others who are very
excited for the program.

“Every college needs a football team,” said Aaron DeLoach, a junior athletic training major.

The biggest question still remains: When?

“Everyone wants a specific date,” Scott said. “Well it’s not that simple.”

The first meeting for the implementation team was last week.

“Hopefully there will be a plan by the end of the next semester,” Scott said

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Changes would tarnish campus environment, university’s nature-friendly atmosphere

I think there needs to be a school-wide survey on how students feel about this whole moving-forward process. I personally do not want to put any of my money towards new athletic facilities.

I am not against a football team. However, I think Judy Bense is moving the school away from the values that it was founded on.

Many students I have talked to came to this school because of the small classes, and beautiful environment on campus.

If I wanted to attend a big university with a football team, I would have gone to Florida State University or the University of Florida.

I enjoy the small friendly atmosphere of UWF. I also really enjoy all of the nature trails on campus.

UWF was built to be a small University that had respect for nature.

UWF was not established to become a huge university that has lost its respect for nature.

— Raechel Vecchio
UWF student


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