UMES passes on restarting intercollegiate football

  • Thursday, February 28, 2013

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Feb. 28, 2013) - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore will remain an institution without intercollegiate football for the near future, President Juliette B. Bell announced today.

    Club football 2013 - by Valentine AnamelechiAfter consulting with her cabinet, Bell accepted recommendations by a task force she appointed to evaluate an independent consultant's study of the pros and cons of reinstating football.

    "The university is not currently in position, with either human or fiscal resources, to reinstate football at this time," the task force report concludes.

    While fielding a Division I football team would be too costly right now, the topic could be revisited in five years, the report also notes.

    The task force headed by Dr. Earl S. Richardson, a UMES graduate and retired president of Morgan State University, recommends the university focus on:

    • Stabilizing the existing athletic program and balancing the existing athletic budget, including cost containment and generating additional non-state revenue.
    • Conducting an in-house review within three years to determine if enough progress has been made that would position the university to reconsider the subject in five years.
    • Continuing to support club football "as a way to maintain enthusiasm and school spirit."

    When the university had a football team, it regularly produced athletes who went on to play professionally in the 1950s and 1960s. UMES last played football in 1979, when it had fewer than 1,000 students.

    Eleven of UMES' peer institutions in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference compete against such schools as the University of Delaware, James Madison University and Towson University.

    "I know some of our alumni, especially those who were here when the university fielded a football team, may be disappointed," Dr. Bell said.  "However, I know that they share my respect for the unforgettable football legacy of this institution."

    "The task force is to be commended for doing a thorough job of analyzing the consultant's report and showing us how those facts fit into our current environment," Bell said. "I concur with its conclusions."

    Bell noted her senior advisers were unanimous in their support of the task force's recommendation.

    Bell's predecessor, interim President Mortimer Neufville, initiated the exploration of restarting intercollegiate football after determining the topic was worth revisiting after some three decades.

    The University System of Maryland's Board of Regents last fall adopted a policy that requires intercollegiate athletic program expenditures to be covered by intercollegiate athletic revenue. Some of USM's public colleges, including UMES, have previously supplemented athletics' budgets with funding from other sources.

    "We live in challenging economic times," Bell said. "We must continue to focus the university's limited resources on its core mission of educating students."

    In his concluding statement, Richardson said "with increased human and fiscal resources, and