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UWF President to Make Decision on Football by Summer 2011

UWF President Judith Bense
UWF President Judith Bense

PENSACOLA, Fla. – University of West Florida President Judith Bense announced that the university will make its decision by summer 2011 about potentially adding football to the athletic program.  The announcement was made to the UWF Athletics Visioning Team Monday.  UWF President Bense also announced that the university will commit to NCAA Division II for at least the next 10 years, citing concerns about the potential costs and challenges associated with moving to Division I, as well as the Division II philosophy being extremely well aligned with UWF’s academic vision and history.

“I am excited about the future of UWF Athletics,” stated Bense in her presidential response.  “We have a plan to move ahead strategically and to build upon a very successful athletic program.”

Bense laid out the strategic plan leading up to the projected decision date of summer 2011.  Starting with the summer of 2010, the Athletic Department will complete the NCAA Self-Study Report to identify departmental strengths and weaknesses, as well as estimate a range of operating budget increases associated with adding football.  During the fall semester, the department will analyze Title IX impact, complete a facilities master plan, and conduct studies related to student interest and fundraising potential.

UWF President Bense will then lead a football feasibility committee in the spring of 2011 that will analyze the data collected in the previous studies.  The feasibility committee will present its report to the President in April of 2011, and Bense expects to make the decision during the summer of 2011.

“We are committed to the NCAA Division II philosophy of "Life in the Balance" which places an emphasis on the student-athlete experience and growth opportunities through academic achievement,” explained UWF Athletic Director Dave Scott. “It is the normal progression to take a more intentional review of the feasibility of football since the divisional alignment question has been answered for the immediate future.

“Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of West Florida has been very successful with over 53 conference championships and five national championships,” Scott continued. “So, whatever we do in the future, we want to make sure we can maintain that level of excellence.”

The Athletics Visioning Team, appointed by UWF President Bense, included community leaders and UWF administrative staff, faculty, and athletic department personnel.  The committee began meeting in January 2009 to develop a recommendation to the UWF President about the future direction of athletics at the university.  The committee finalized its recommendation in August of 2009, which included a three-step process: strengthening the program’s current position, improving facilities, and becoming a Division I institution while also incorporating football.

The Athletic Department has already incorporated many of the items included in the Visioning Team’s recommendations regarding strengthening its current position.  These items include the Athletic Director reporting directly to the President, increasing institutional support in the form out-of-state waivers for scholarships, and establishing and funding a full-time development position dedicated solely to athletics.  The department has also recently launched ArgoFanShop.com, an online store including apparel, bags, and other Argonauts merchandise.  UWF Athletics is also working towards a department-wide apparel agreement.

Updates on the process will be posted online to the Visioning Team home page at GoArgos.com as they become available.  For information on all UWF Athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.

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