Football at UNF? Delaney eyes option

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - University of North Florida President John Delaney wants the university to look into adding a football team.

Delaney asked the Board of Trustees for permission to begin discussions about the possibility of starting a football program at UNF Tuesday. 

In a letter sent out to the campus community, Delaney said,  "Athletics has to support itself financially and not negatively impact the school academically." Delaney called the idea an "exploratory, only" and not a "commitment to adding football." 

Senior Kelley O'Neill transferred to UNF from New Jersey three years ago and told Channel 4 that there is only one thing missing at the University of North Florida is a football team. 

"That was kinda like one of my main conflicts with transferring here, I wanted something to do. Going out to a football game late at night on like a Friday or Saturday, everyone loves doing that," said O'Neill 

Channel 4 sports director Sam Kouvaris weighed in on the possibility of an Osprey football team. 

"When you get a hundred new students in willing to pay full price in order to participate in football, then you are able to raise the revenue," said Kourvaris. "So, you can certainly start at divisions three football programs and have full paying students an opportunity for guys to continue their football careers a start."

UNF students Channel 4 spoke with Tuesday night weresplit on the idea of an Osprey football team.   

"In the long run, I think it's a fantastic idea," said O'Neill. "Going to baseball and soccer games are great, but football, really brings this town together."

"Personally, I feel that the football program that's being proposed would only add more reasons to raise these taxes and tuitions, which I think really isn't needed right now, so I personally don't agree with it," said Daniel Dipiero, a senior at 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, and having such a small campus, with the kinda feel that it has, is sort of a nice thing for it," said Jason Howard, a junior at UNF. 
President Delaney said he's committed to doing what's right for UNF. He will be made available to the media to on Wednesday morning.

Delaney's statement in its entirety is as follows:

"Today I asked the Board of Trustees for permission to begin discussions with faculty and students about the possibility of starting a football program at UNF. A number of universities within Florida and also others within our conference are looking at adding football teams. This may negatively impact UNF's current athletic conference alignment and may open up opportunities at the same time. This is exploratory only, and not a commitment to adding football.

"I have long said that a Florida public university needs enrollment of about 25,000 students to properly support football. And most schools of that size do indeed have football. Thus football is probably inevitable for UNF at some point. But our Athletic policy has always been that no academic resources can be used to support Athletics, and that we will not lower our academic admission standards. In short, Athletics has to support itself financially and not negatively impact the school academically. We are simply examining the pros, cons, costs and ramifications and doing preliminary due diligence.

"With the athletic conference realignments, and with other Florida schools and others in our conference considering adding football, the landscape is changing dramatically. What was premature just a few month ago is a timely investigation now. This clearly is not an opportune time economically, but we have a duty to look at all options.

"There will be plenty of opportunity for input once we get a few more details.

"Again, we are at the very early stages of this discussion and analysis. As we look into this option, we seek feedback from students, faculty, staff, alums, donors, volunteers and the community at large. This will be a long process with ample opportunity to weigh the pros and cons. We go into this knowing the possibility of having a football team at UNF will be a hotly-debated topic on campus and in the community. Please know I am committed to doing what's right for UNF."

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