On March 18, 2011, the Reinhardt Board of Trustees voted to approve the addition of football to the University’s intercollegiate athletics program. Reinhardt currently sponsors and offers athletic aid in 16 sports programs, including cheerleading, and football would be the 17th program.
“The decision by the Board of Trustees to bring intercollegiate football to Reinhardt is a challenging and exciting adventure,” said President J. Thomas Isherwood. “We will offer more than 100 football scholarships and these athletes will join with the 240 scholarship student-athletes already competing in 16 intercollegiate sports on campus. We will begin recruiting football student-athletes next fall [fall 2012], and we will have our first game in September 2013. Saturday afternoons will never be the same in Waleska!”
Director of Athletics Bill Popp added to Isherwood’s sentiments. “First let me say how exciting it is to add football and how excited I will be to see it develop over the next few years. We have a well thought out timeline that has been created by Dr. Isherwood and the Football Committee that will lead us over the next few months. One of the most important steps I believe will be hiring the Head Football Coach, and that search will begin in the very near future.”
The new sport is expected to increase enrollment by about 100 residential students. More than 20 faculty, staff and administrative positions will be added to better serve all students and to support the upcoming enrollment increase. A new residence hall and new athletic facilities will also be constructed to meet the needs of the growing student population.
“In making this decision today, the Board of Trustees also committed to the construction of a new football stadium, a premier field house for our athletes, and a new residence hall to expand our ability to welcome all students to campus life,” said Isherwood.
“We will have a larger number of student-athletes to watch over, which will include keeping them healthy, eligible, and strong, and we are looking forward to adding the new facilities, personnel and services necessary to address these students’ needs,” added Popp.
Success of Peer Institutions
Several Georgia institutions have recently added successful football programs. Shorter University and LaGrange College have added football within the last decade, and Berry College is in the exploratory stages of doing the same. Kennesaw State recently announced the development of a fully funded scholarship program, and Georgia State just completed a successful inaugural season.
Twelve of Reinhardt's 16 intercollegiate teams currently compete as members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). In 2010, there were 92 NAIA schools that sponsored football of which 16 qualified for the NAIA National Championship Series. The only other NAIA school in Georgia to sponsor football is Shorter University.
Moving Forward in the University's Best Interest
“The Board of Trustees felt it was in the best interest of the University to move forward with this program,” said William (Billy) G. Hasty, Jr. ’67, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “If Reinhardt is going to grow, this is the first step to compete with our peer institutions and make the campus feel more like a University environment. You can sense the excitement for Reinhardt to do bigger and better things and football is a big part of that!”
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