South Alabama trustees approve NCAA football

From Staff Reports The Vanguard

December 10, 2007

Mobile, AL (CSTV U-WIRE) -- The University of South Alabama board of trustees voted unanimously in favor of starting an NCAA Football program and marching band.

USA President V. Gordon Moulton said the vote was a "critical decision" that will impact the University and community for many years.

The University hopes to play its first game in fall of 2009.

First-year costs are projected to be around $800,000 and will climb to almost $6 million during the fifth year of the program, according to the board of trustees' due diligence report on NCAA Football.

Year five is the year that the program is expected to make the jump to Division I Bowl Championship Sub-Division.

The "lion's share" of the cost will be supported by a $150 per semester student fee increase, according to Moulton. The fee increase will go into effect in the fall of 2008.

Other sources of revenue will come in the form of ticket sales, travel guarantees, alumni donations and support from the city and county.

The city has expressed a willingness to provide rent-free use of Ladd-Peebles Stadium for five years, according to Mobile City Council President Reggie Copeland.

"Ladd Stadium will be home to the USA Jaguars," Copeland said. "The GMAC Bowl and the Senior Bowl will have to take a backseat to USA Football."

"Jags football has my undying support," added Copeland.

Moulton based his decision to recommend NCAA Football mainly on the basis of student life and alumni support.

Student leaders presented President Moulton with a petition on Nov. 10 during the halftime show at the men's basketball game versus the University of West Florida. The petition contained more than 2,300 student signatures in support of raising fees in order to develop an NCAA Football program and marching band.

The addition of NCAA Football and a marching band is expected to have a major impact on the University's music department, and the fine arts in general, according to Moulton.

The alumni association voted unanimously in support of football, pledging $50,000 to the University.

At the board of trustees meeting, alumni association President Andy Denny surprised President Moulton with the presentation of a "loaner" gift, an Indianapolis Colts championship ring belonging to Peyton Manning.

As Denny slid the ring onto Moulton's finger, he said, "Today you are a champion."

(C) 2007 The Vanguard via CSTV U-WIRE