JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - University of North Florida students already show their excitement during basketball games, so just imagine thousands more in a football stadium.
It may come to fruition in the coming years, and while President John Delaney said adding a football team to the school's athletic department will likely happen eventually, he didn't think exploring the option would come this soon.
"There's a buzz on campus today, and every time I speak to a student group or an alumni group or, frankly, a rotary club out in the community, I always get asked about football," Delaney said.
And now he's looking into it. But why now?
Two reasons have changed the landscape, Delaney said, citing a major realignment in college athletic conferences across the country, and two other Florida universities currently looking at adding football programs -- the University of West Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University.
"We don't have a conference to play our athletic program in," Delaney said. "If you're an orphan, you've got to find a home, so football opens up more conference affiliations for us."
Delaney says the deciding factor in getting a football program will be finances.
"We really have to work up kind of the business plan, what would it cost and where would the revenue would come from," he said. "And you can't use any tuition money or any academic money on athletics, so it's a completely separate income stream."
Delaney also says UNF will not lower its academic admission standards for athletics.
"You could get into Florida or Duke on a basketball or football scholarship and we wouldn't accept you at UNF," Delaney said. "They've altered their standards there to be able to keep a viable athletic program, so that's why we want to look for a conference where academics is a higher priority and preserve that integrity."
It's a decision Osprey fans have differing opinions on, but one thing's for sure, they're proud to go to UNF.
"Personally I enjoy the fact that the school doesn't have a football team because there's a lot of stigmas and stereotypes that come along with that," UNF junior Jason Howard said.
"Yeah, it's going to cost some money to bring that here, but I think that we could do it and I think that's what this school needs," UNF senior Kelley O'Neill added.
Delaney said it will probably be a year to a year and a half before UNF makes a decision on the possibility of starting a football program. And if the university decides to run with the idea, he said it will likely be 2017 before UNF would play its first game.
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