JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 2, 2013) – During a news conference today, East Tennessee State University President Dr. Brian Noland announced plans to start a football program that could be on the field by the fall 2015 semester.
His announcement came four days after the Tennessee Board of Regents approved a $125 student fee increase that will be used to fund the program. The ETSU Student Government Association voted to recommend the fee this past January. The increase is expected to generate approximately $2.5 million in revenue.
“Football is an American tradition,” Noland said. “It builds school spirit, it builds school pride, and it builds engagement – engagement with our students, with our community, and with our alumni.
“Conversations about the presence of football at ETSU have been taking place for more than a decade. These conversations have put people on opposite sides of the table. It was one of the first questions I was asked when I interviewed for this job, and I have been talking about football on a daily basis ever since. The time has come to move these conversations forward.”
ETSU dropped its football program in 2003 due to budget cuts and revenue shortfalls. The Buc football team played its last game on Nov. 22, 2003, against The Citadel, winning 16-13. An effort during the 2006-07 academic year to return football was not successful when students voted down a $200 fee increase.
Noland added that announcements regarding a head coach, conference affiliation, and possible locations for a playing field will be made at a later date.
ETSU first fielded a football team in 1920 during its days as East Tennessee State Normal School. The team, called the Normalites, finished with a 3-3 season. The athletic teams were first referred to as the Buccaneers in 1935.