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UTSA to use USF model for starting football


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The local university here in San Antonio, UTSA, is looking to use USF as a model for starting a football program.  They are currently 1-AA in all sports, but with no football team.  They would like to eventually go 1-A and use USF as a model.  They would use student fee increases to fund the program.  This is front page news in todays San Antonio Express-News, with at least 3 stories devoted to it.  They would most likely play at the Alamodome (NFL type stadium), just as USF uses and NFL stadium, and would probably start play in 2010 at the 1-AA level before moving up to 1-A.  Thought you all might be interested:

College football: Florida programs come from fertile ground Natalie England

San Antonio Express-News

http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/football/stories/MYSA091307.01C.Florida.Programs.en.34985ed.html

As recently as three years ago, the South Florida football coaching staff didn't have offices  they worked out of trailers. Nor did they have permanent lights on the team's practice field. So, at dusk, the coaches used their high-beam car headlights to squeeze in a few extra snaps.

Yes, this is the same South Florida that last Saturday stunned 17th-ranked Auburn on the Tigers' home field.    

Central Florida, South Florida's upstate cousin and fellow Division I-A newcomer, will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday before playing Texas, the biggest game in the school's 29 football seasons. The Knights will officially open Bright House Networks Stadium, a 45,000-seat facility so new that the freshly planted palm trees lining the stadium's entrance are still propped by braces.

In 1979, the year Central Florida played its first football game, UT legend Darrell Royal was nearly three years into coaching retirement. When the Southwest Conference broke up in 1996, the Knights were still months away from playing their first Division I-A game.

And yet Central Florida ranks as the graybeard in a quartet of Florida start-up schools trying to siphon off national recognition from the state's Big Three  Florida, Florida State and Miami.

In 1995, the Big Three represented the extent of the state's participation in I-A football. Now, seven schools share the stage. The newcomers  Central Florida, South Florida, Florida Atlantic and Florida International  have a combined 19 full seasons in the major-college ranks. Yet, their impact has been felt in significant ways.

South Florida, which made its I-A debut in 2001, owned upsets of Louisville and West Virginia before adding Auburn to its list of victims. Central Florida needed only a four-year apprenticeship in I-A before upsetting Alabama, and the Knights opened the season two weeks ago with a victory over North Carolina State.

Now, after an off week, Central Florida has the vaunted Longhorns in their sights.

"This is a new beginning for Central Florida," school athletic director Keith Tribble said. "It couldn't be more fitting than to have a storied program like Texas help us start that."

While UT football tradition dates back over a century, Central Florida's roots run about as deep as the palms outside the school's new stadium.

"You can't manufacture tradition," Tribble says. "The only way to get tradition is to create a winning program."

For Central Florida and South Florida, that hasn't been as difficult as many had predicted.

South Florida went 9-4 last season and won a bowl game for the first time, beating East Carolina 24-7 in the Papajohns.com Bowl. Central Florida, too, has a bowl game under its belt, a 2005 appearance in the Hawaii Bowl.

Florida Atlantic and Florida International, both in just their second seasons of I-A competition, have yet to find that kind of traction. Florida International is 0-14 since joining the I-A ranks.

Football start-ups are rare in the college ranks. Still, UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds recalls a game in 1981 in which the Longhorns were embroiled in a rugged contest with a "little Florida school." UT survived with a 14-7 victory.

"It was Miami," Dodds says. "They were just starting out."

The Hurricanes, who began major college competition in 1946, rebounded well from the loss to UT. They won five undisputed national titles over the next 20 seasons.

Florida, which has come to mirror Texas in its production of major-college players, now mirrors Texas in home-state colleges to accommodate those players. Texas boasts 10 schools playing major-college football. The pup among that group is North Texas, which began major-college competition in 1957.

Florida, Dodds says, "can start I-A programs and be successful by just recruiting kids in their backyard."

UT coach Mack Brown laughs that he nearly threw up when he learned of South Florida's upset of Auburn but adds that he wasn't shocked.

"You will see those Florida schools improve like Texas' can," Brown says. "Florida has really great players. Now they can stay at home."

The best model, to date, is South Florida. Head coach Jim Leavitt started the Bulls' program 11 years ago and has managed it ever since.

In 1996, the Bulls did nothing but practice. They followed that with four years in Division I-AA before graduating to I-A status in 2001. South Florida won 17 games in its first two seasons as an independent, then joined Conference USA for two years. In 2004, South Florida joined the Big East.

"That gave us a platform," South Florida athletic director Doug Woolard says. "It gave us access to the BCS, and that brought a new recruiting philosophy."

It also allowed Leavitt and staff to move out of their trailers. South Florida opened a 104,000-square-foot training center in 2004.

"Jim has a chance to do something that I don't think has ever been done in history," Woolard says. "And that's start a program, stay with it and take it to a place of national prominence."

http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/football/stories/MYSA20070913.06C.NZ.State.FBC_utsa-florida_model_0.2ff4a68.html

UTSA students hold key to possible football program

Web Posted: 09/13/2007 12:30 AM CDT

Jerry Briggs

Express-News Staff Writer

Florida schools that have jumped into Division I-A college football within the past dozen years can thank their students for the opportunity.

One of the key elements for the start of teams at Florida International, Florida Atlantic and South Florida, plus Central Florida's move from I-AA to I-A in 1996, were athletic department budgets bolstered by student fees.

 

The "fee-based" model is one that UTSA is using in an effort to start its own program.

"We're not doing something that's outrageous and hasn't been done before," UTSA athletic director Lynn Hickey said.

Results of a UTSA student referendum authorizing fee increases will be announced today.

If the referendum passes, then students will have authorized doubling their fee rate from $10 per semester hour to $20 per semester hour.

Athletics fee rates at the Florida schools are comparable  Florida Atlantic charges $13.75 per semester hour, Florida International $13.05, Central Florida $11.72 and South Florida $10, according to the school's Web sites.

Hickey said UTSA's rate could go higher than the Florida schools because UTSA started its process later.

"We haven't invented the wheel," Hickey said. "We have asked students to invest not unlike they have done at other schools across the country."

Fee increases at UTSA would require approval by the administration and the UT System Board of Regents.

Currently, UTSA's fees are capped at $120 per semester. Anyone taking 12 hours or more pays that amount.

Students are voting to authorize raising the rate in increments for the next several years, up to $20 per semester hour, or a $240 maximum.

Julie Berg, senior associate athletic director for internal operations at Florida International, said student contributions through fees made it possible for FIU to start football in 2002 and to make the move to I-A status in 2006.

"It would have been absolutely impossible to start a program at FIU without the contribution and foresight of our student body," she said.

In general, more established programs around the nation charge students less in fees than the ones that have recently taken on an expensive program such as football.

Students at Texas, for instance, pay nothing for athletics if they have no interest in attending events, a spokesman said. But an option is the Longhorn All Sports Package for $70 per year. With the LASP, students can access free tickets to football, basketball and other events year-round.

A student can secure a season ticket to UT home games for $130, a spokesman said.

Texas A&M students also have the option of buying into the access of free tickets for home sports events. Students at A&M can purchase football-game-only access for $187.50, while access to all sporting events costs $295, a spokesman said.

Win or lose, UTSA football vote seen as step toward bigger dreams

Web Posted: 09/12/2007 11:42 PM CDT

Melissa Ludwig

Express-News

Josh Collins would love to play football. Cait Taylor wants to tailgate at games. John Lerma thinks a football team would boost school spirit. David Wagner couldn't care less.

The results of a University of Texas at San Antonio student referendum that could help open the door to a football team are due out today, and opinions vary so wildly it's hard to predict the outcome.

Whether students vote yea or nay, one thing is clear: The fact that UTSA is even pondering Division I football is proof positive that it is bent on blossoming from a little-known commuter college into a full-fledged campus with a national reputation.

Read more:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/stories/MYSA091307.01A..UTSA_Football.34984cb.html

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Nice piece of info hidden in there:  USF's student athetics fees have $2-3 of upside in them.  Could be a nice foundation for an OCS.

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It's flattering that we're UTSA's role model, but I'm not sure this is going to work out for them. When USF launched football, there were only four I-A programs in Florida (including UCF, which had just gone I-A). Texas has ten I-A programs - Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU, SMU, Houston, UTEP, Rice, Baylor, and North Texas. There's a lot more competition for the kind of recruits USF was pulling in when we launched our team, and the depth and quality of the Texas high school talent pool is about the same as Florida's.

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Nice piece of info hidden in there:  USF's student athetics fees have $2-3 of upside in them.  Could be a nice foundation for an OCS.

Actually, she wasn't accurate there...

USF's athletic fees are $10.52 per credit hour with an additional $10 per student per semester.

I don't know if student athletic fees would be used for OCS, they were not used for the Sun Dome, for example.  The Board of Governors would have to approve the use of fees for debt service.  The Sun Dome was build with Capital Improvement Trust Fund moneys, currently $2.44 per credit hour, appropriated by the Legislature.

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It's flattering that we're UTSA's role model, but I'm not sure this is going to work out for them. When USF launched football, there were only four I-A programs in Florida (including UCF, which had just gone I-A). Texas has ten I-A programs - Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU, SMU, Houston, UTEP, Rice, Baylor, and North Texas. There's a lot more competition for the kind of recruits USF was pulling in when we launched our team, and the depth and quality of the Texas high school talent pool is about the same as Florida's.

Yes, but how many of the programs you just mentioned have an NFL caliber stadium (Alamodome) just sitting there vacant waiting for a tenant.  The Alamodome was built to lure an NFL team.  So far San Antonio has been usuccesful in tha endeavor (although they did lure the Saints for 1 year after Katrina).  So people around here think UTSA is the next best thing until they can lure an NFL team.  Also a lot of blue chippers come out of San Antonio, usually they end up at UT or aTm.  There would be no lack of local talent to draw from.   

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Not sure this would be a good idea for UTSA.  While they did notice the fee structure and NFL stadium, they seem to have missed the $5,000,000 start up fund, 20,000 season tickets, 38,000 students enrolled (at the time), over 200,000 alumni, #12 television market (they are 30) and a D IA conference affiliation.  We were also already D IA in all other sports prior to football, so it was a logical move by us.

UTSA will not have those advantages, they also have a much deeper competition base.  We had the big three (plus one) they have the big four (plus six).  They also will not have the luck that USF had with the BE defections to help push them over the top.  Just look at the problems Houston's having.  I don't think that this would be a good move for them.  Although they are being realistic with that $20 per hour student fee.

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Agree with Buller64. The problem UTSA has is that it has no "in" to Division I-A football like USF did. They're in the Southland conference, which is I-AA in football. And where does UTSA go if they get into I-A? The Sun Belt? Isn't that league getting kind of crowded?

USF was really a perfect storm - we had limited competition, good connections, almost non-stop success on the field, and a fair amount of luck. I don't think we'll see another success story like it.

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AND--- we had Leavitt!!!!

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Students approve fee increase in UTSA's first step toward football team

Associated Press

Updated: September 13, 2007, 8:12 PM ET

SAN ANTONIO -- Students at the University of Texas at San Antonio have voted to increase student-paid athletics fees to support an eventual football program at the school.

The results of this week's vote, announced Thursday, mean student athletic fees may incrementally increase from a maximum of $120 per semester to a maximum of $240 a semester. While the money will generally go to improvements for the school's athletics programs, the vote also is a first step toward eventually creating a football team.

Almost 66 percent of the 4,600 votes cast were in favor of the increase.

The NCAA Division I school, with an enrollment of nearly 29,000 students, already sponsors 16 sports.

Marianne McBride Lewis, a university spokeswoman, said the earliest the school could have a team is 2010, but that's "really optimistic."

She said to create a team the school will need additional financial support from outside donors, since tuition money and state funding can't be used for athletics.

The school's administration and the University of Texas System Board of Regents still each has to approve the increase. The first incremental increase could go into effect next fall, Lewis said.

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In their feasability study, UTSA states they are clearly looking to move to either the WAC, Sun Belt or Conference USA.  Those 3 conferences were specifically mentioned, with C-USA being the most likely and a target for them to shoot for.  It doesn't appear they will get the perfect storm USF got.  But one thing you have to remember is San Antonio are extremely football mad and hungry with no team.

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