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UMES Explores Football Revival

The University of Maryland-Eastern Shore announced on Sept 20 that it is exploring the possibility of reviving its long- dormant football program.

PRINCESS ANNE, MD – (Sept. 20, 2012) – The University of Maryland Eastern Shore announced on Sept. 20 the formation of a task force to help the institution assess a study that outlines what fielding an NCAA Division I football team would take. UMES last fielded a football team in 1979, when the university had fewer than 1,000 students.

Earlier this year, the UMES administration hired a consulting firm to help it identify factors that should be considered in weighing such a decision.

President Juliette B. Bell said the Alden & Associates report provides a roadmap to follow in addressing the feasibility of offering football as part of UMES’ sports line-up.

“We still have a long way to go before a decision can be made,” Bell said. “But it is important to have this independent perspective of what our institution should consider when assessing whether adding a football program makes sense.”

The consultant’s report provides a snapshot of the current state of athletics at UMES and projects what would be needed to restart a football program. It also assesses the potential impact the addition of an NCAA-eligible football team would have on the university.

“Ultimately, our decision will be one that puts the best interest of our students and our university’s mission at the forefront,” Bell said.

Bell noted that the consultants put together a scenario using a three-year phase-in as a model for starting a football program. It estimates the first year would cost just under $1 million; the second year $3.6 million; and year 3, the first year for competitive play, is projected at nearly $3.9 million.
Embedded in those numbers is the suggestion UMES add intercollegiate sports opportunities for female athletes to remain in compliance with federal gender-equity laws as well as the assumption the university would also develop a full-fledged marching band.

“That is a sizeable investment,” Bell said, “And it does not include the estimated $21 million in capital funds needed for improving existing facilities and building new ones, including a football stadium.”

Bell met with the 17-member task force this morning to provide the panel copies of the Alden study along with a charge to evaluate the consultant’s findings.

“I’m looking for these volunteers to draw on expertise from their respective fields to provide their assessment of what is contained in the report and what is best for UMES,” Bell said.

Bell asked the task force, chaired by Dr. Earl S. Richardson, to complete its work by December. Dr. Richardson is a UMES alumnus and president emeritus of Morgan State University, which fields a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football team.

Once the task force completes its work, the university will then focus on making a decision on whether to add intercollegiate football at UMES.

The Alden study focuses on the projected investments UMES would need to make for a team to compete in the Football Championship Subdivision. Specifically, the report addresses scholarships, financial aid, coaches, uniforms, travel and facility needs.

Once a determination was made that a study was necessary to make an objective decision about re-establishing a football team, the study was paid for with $35,000 raised for the Hawks for Football Fund within the university’s foundation.

Eleven of MEAC’s 13 member institutions field football teams that compete against such institutions as the University of Delaware, James Madison University and Towson University. UMES has produced 25 NFL players to date, including Hall Of Fame offensive lineman Art Shell.

UMES currently fields teams in seven men’s sports and eight women’s sports at the Division I level. The university also has a club team recognized as a sanctioned student activity through the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

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