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Monday, September 20, 2004

UNCP to study addition of football program

Based upon the results of the Board of Trustee study, a football team may be in the future for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, said Chancellor Allen C. Meadors.

This is the 1951 Braves’ football team in its last year.

This is the 1951 Braves’ football team in its last year.

“Establishing a football program at UNC Pembroke is another step toward our becoming a premier regional University, Chancellor Meadors said. “Football will add to the vibrant life of our campus.”

A feasibility study will be submitted to the Board of Trustees at their December 3, 2004, meeting.

The University will employ consultant George F. “Buddy” Sasser from Conway, S.C., to prepare the formal report. Sasser is a former coach, athletic director and conference commissioner, said Athletic Director Dan Kenney.

“Buddy Sasser has the expertise as a coach and AD in starting a football program. He was the AD at Coastal Carolina in 2000 when they did their feasibility study and his input at UNC Pembroke will be valuable,” Kenney said.

Allen C. Meadors

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors

Critical to the process is gaining input from the entire University community.

“The study will include surveys from the students, alumni and the community,” Kenney said. “In addition to the surveys, gender issues will be evaluated, start up costs identified, infrastructure needs listed and annual operating costs detailed for a NCAA Division II football team. In addition to the reports UNCP Athletic Administrators plan to make visits to other peer institutions that have NCAA Division II football schools.

It’s too early in the process to finalize the start up costs of an NCAA Division II football program. One core value UNCP will have with this report is not to reduce the current funding in order to establish a football team. The feasibility study will examine funding models that allow a university to create a new team without diminishing or financially impacting the ones we already have. Kenney said.

The Board of Trustees is looking forward to the report.

“I am excited about the possibility of expanding the athletic program,” said Trustee Breeden Blackwell, a 1968 graduate. “The long range effect of football on student interest, enrollment and public relations will be great.”

Trustee Gervais Oxendine, a member of the class of 1968, said football would build positive relationships to the University.

“It will increase local and regional support for the University,” Oxendine said. “I think it would be a good business and marketing tool.”

Alumni like Mary Beth Brayboy, class of 2003, say football would raise school spirit.

“I am not a big football fan, but I think it would be great because I do like to socialize,” Brayboy said. “It would boost school spirit.”

UNCP’s consultant is a former college football coach at Division I East Tennessee State University and Wofford University, a Big South conference commissioner and director of athletics at Coastal Carolina University.

Ned Sampson

Ned Sampson

UNCP had a college football team after World War II until 1951. Several former football players have been inducted into the UNCP Athletic Hall of Fame. The list includes Ned Sampson, Delton Ray Locklear, Thomas Oxendine, Theodore Locklear, Les Locklear, Marvin Lowry, Joseph Sampson and Molon Strickland.

Ned Sampson played on UNCP’s last football team in 1951. He said the teams won more than they lost against junior college, junior varsity and club teams.

“We had some pretty good football players,” Sampson said. “We did not have a lot of players, so they played both offense and defense. You went on the field at the beginning of the game and went off at the end unless you got injured.”

Sampson, who is also in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame, said he thought football at UNCP would be “great,” and the community would support it.

“I’d try to see as many games as possible,” he said. “It would be nice to go out on a Saturday afternoon to see a game. I think you would see some big crowds, especially if they have good teams.”

“You’ve got a lot of good high school players here, in Hoke County and around the region,” Samspon said.

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