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News Clips 09/06/2013
UWF leaders happy to have football
Source: Pensacola News Journal, 09/05/13
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By Jason Blakeney
Reaction to Wednesday’s announcement that the University of West Florida will play football beginning in 2016 has been mostly positive.
University of West Florida President Judy Bense said no new fees would be associated with the addition of the team, and that is something UWF SGA President Christopher Hill said was important to inform students, parents and alumni.
Hill said it is the SGA’s job to help the student body see the benefits.
“That’s something student government is here to help with, to make sure students are aware that there’s no plan to raise the fees, and that football is here to help promote athletic pride on campus,” Hill said.
The faculty senate also put its stamp of approval on the addition of the sport. The commitment to remain at the NCAA Division II was key for the comfort of professors across campus, and Faculty Senate President Dr. Richard Hough said most faculty members are happy to see the addition.
“As President Bense said, one of the things we are happiest about is that it maintains the image and reality of a student-athlete,” Hough said. “We have awesome athletics at the University of West Florida. We’re very comfortable in Division II because it doesn’t have the distraction of Division I that would make scholars hesitant.”
The average GPA for Argonaut athletes was 2.88 during the 2012-13 school year, just higher than the 2.87 average of the student body as a whole. Though it only was a slight difference during the last academic year, it marks the 19th consecutive year that UWF athletes outperformed the student body in the classroom.
“We’ve been thrilled to have students who even when they’re involved in athletics, they’re in class, they’re doing their work,” Hough said.
Hough said he thinks this change makes many people nervous because it makes them concerned with how they’ll be individually impacted. But he thinks football is a natural addition to school’s athletic lineup.
“This does seem to be the maturing process of the (athletic) program and the university growth,” Hough said. “And anything that continues to connect the university to the community, that’s a great thing. It’s about partnerships and having that support, and most people think this does move it more toward that.”
And as a future alumnus, Hill thinks the sport will bring alumni back to campus and will give graduates something to rally around. Hill said he already talked to several graduates who are ready to come back to town for a game.
“I’m in a fraternity here, and we already talked about coming out and having a big tailgate, and it’s not even just the fraternity,” Hill said. “It’s on the student level everywhere. Students are ready to come back.”