University of West Florida Football - Frequently Asked Questions
Why is UWF adding a football team?
Adding a football team is one part of the University’s larger goal to enhance student life and has the capacity to:
• Increase exposure and help raise UWF’s national profile
• Attract more students from across the state and region
• Grow alumni and community support
• Increase school spirit
• Provide a more vibrant campus experience
• Assist in student retention by creating opportunities for improved engagement
• Expand sponsorship and other fundraising opportunities
FALL 2014: Begin recruiting first football student-athletes
Any potential student-athletes wishing to join the inaugural football team at the University of West Florida are invited to contact Pete Shinnick.
FALL 2015: Enroll inaugural recruiting class and begin recruiting next class of football student-athletes
FALL 2015: Begin practices and intrasquad scrimmages
Football student-athletes enrolled at the University of West Florida during the 2015-16 academic year will participate in a full season of practices and intrasquad scrimmages.
FALL 2016: Begin inaugural season
UWF will be added to the Gulf South Conference football schedule in the inaugural season, and the team will be eligible for a conference championship and an NCAA postseason bid.
Is there a possibility that UWF will begin playing football before 2016?
No. The University needs the time between now and 2016 to fundraise and properly implement the program.
Where will the team play?
UWF and the Community Maritime Park Associates (CMPA) have reached an agreement in concept for the UWF football team to play its home games at Vince Whibbs, Sr. Community Maritime Park when the team begins playing in 2016. Maritime Park Stadium is currently the home of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Double-A minor league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball.
The University’s long-term plan is for the team to play in a stadium built on campus, as described in the athletics facilities master plan. The stadium is envisioned to be a centerpiece of University Park, an area that will become a gathering place for UWF athletics and student life. University Park is the south central area of campus, which includes current facilities, such as the UWF Field House, Health, Leisure & Sports Facility and the Health and Wellness Center. The planned mixed-use development project concept includes facilities such as a new student union, additional housing facilities, football stadium, a renovated field house, parking garage, plaza, bell tower and more.
The athletics facilities master plan also calls for additional on campus practice facilities for the football team. University officials are working on a plan for those practice facilities so that they are completed by the time the first football student-athletes arrive on campus.
All development, whether for academic space, living space, athletics space or student life space, will be in keeping with the University's leadership in the area of environmental stewardship.
Who will the team play?
UWF is currently an NCAA Division II member and competes in the Gulf South Conference (GSC), which sponsors football. UWF will be added to the football schedule and eligible for a conference championship in the inaugural season. The GSC has a strong history in football with 11 NCAA Division II national championships, including Valdosta State in 2012. Currently eight GSC schools play football, including football-only member Florida Tech, and expansion teams are being considered.
UWF will remain an NCAA Division II member for the foreseeable future. Division II institutions emphasize balance, and student-athletes are encouraged to achieve excellence in their sport, in the classroom and in their community.
How will the football program be funded?
The UWF Football Founders group is currently raising money for startup costs and facilities. Startup costs are projected to be approximately $1.5 million and will include uniforms, practice equipment and much more. The most immediate facility needs include practice fields, locker rooms and offices. More information can be found on the Argonaut Athletic Club football page.
The football program budget will be funded year-to-year by a combination of existing athletic fees, scholarships, private giving, corporate sponsorships and ticket sales. The program budget will grow each year leading up to the inaugural year of competition in 2016. The current plan calls for no new fees associated with football, and at this time no new state funds will be directed to football specifically.
The program budget for football will be similar to the budgets for UWF’s current sports in many ways. None of UWF’s current sports are fully funded with the maximum number of scholarships, and football will be the same. The number of scholarships will grow from the time the first football student-athletes enroll at the University to when the team begins playing in 2016. Private giving supplements the program budgets for the current sports, and private giving will be essential to the football budget as well.
How will football enhance current UWF sports?
The University of West Florida Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has experienced unprecedented success as an NCAA Division II school in the Gulf South Conference (GSC). The Argonauts have won eight national championships, and their 79 GSC championships at the start of the 2014-15 academic year are the most in league history. UWF claimed eight of those 79 GSC titles in 2013-14, the most in one season for any school in GSC history.
The athletic department is growing, as women’s swimming and diving was added as a varsity sport in 2013-14. With each additional sport, the reach of UWF athletics grows. The addition of football will bring additional exposure, which creates opportunities to promote the success of the University’s current varsity teams. Football will also create opportunities for more championship experiences for UWF student-athletes.
How will the addition of football impact the region?
The addition of football is a university-wide undertaking that will greatly enhance both the athletic department and the university. At the same time, this endeavor can and will greatly enhance the Northwest Florida Region, and the University will reach out to the community for assistance and support. According to a 2010 economic impact study, the impact of UWF athletics was $6.1 million. That number is expected to increase significantly with the addition of football.
How did this process start?
In 2009, the Athletics Visioning Team was created in an effort to gather a significant amount of data and engage in discussion of what UWF intercollegiate athletics should look like in the future. This group’s comprehensive report recognized the role athletics plays in promoting and representing the university to the community. The group made specific recommendations related to the critical need to strengthen the existing program and the expansion of existing athletic programs to include football.
The plan also called for an athletics facilities master plan, which was conducted by EMO Architects and recommends a student union, central gathering places, improved facilities, east sports complex and football stadium. In December of 2010, the UWF Board of Trustees voted to conceptually approve the athletics facilities master plan as part of the overall campus master plan.
In Spring 2011, the Football Feasibility Committee was created with a charge to explore the possibility of adding an intercollegiate football program at the University of West Florida. The committee examined three key areas: projected costs, funding possibilities and broader consequences. The group made its recommendations to the President after receiving input from the Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Committee (IAAC), who endorsed the idea that football could become a vital part of UWF’s overall student life initiative.
The Student Life Implementation Team was commissioned in Fall 2011 with the charge to develop a revenue stream for program operations and facilities for football and additional women’s sports. The team laid out several benchmarks that would be essential for the University to meet in order to develop and sustain football and additional women’s sports.
After the recommendations by the Football Feasibility Committee and the Student Life Implementation Team, the group known as the Football Founders was created. This group began meeting in December 2012 to address the benchmarks laid out by the previous committees by developing a fundraising plan.
How can I help?
Private donations will be essential to the success of the UWF football program. Detailed information about how to donate is available on the Argonaut Athletic Club football page. Potential donors can also contact associate athletic director for development Brett Berg at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.