NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – It is what the University of New Orleans should have done years ago – that is play football.
The Southland Conference, who has lost membership, needs UNO to play football. and UNO needs it badly.
August thru almost January each year, the university has no athletic profile with the public.
King football takes over. The Saints and LSU and Tulane, and prep sports get the lion’s share of the publicity.
And, two Southland schools, Nicholls and Southeastern, both within an hour of New Orleans, got more publicity than the Privateers.
For years, we heard the naysayers say it couldn’t be done. they were unwilling to try something different – even as enrollment at the school plunged.
It was faulty thinking.
Why football now? Well, enrollment.
Football and success in it, attracts students.
At Alabama, since Nick Saban arrived, enrollment has sky-rocketed.
UNO won’t be Alabama, but in a town with so many outstanding high school football players, I think UNO could be very good, very quickly.
At the recent NCAA Final Four press conference, I visited with Tim Duncan, Director of Athletics at the University of New Orleans.
Sometime this semester, UNO students will ask the University of Louisiana system to approve a vote to increase fees to support a package that includes football.
The student vote could come in November.
Without the student okay, it is very doubtful that the project will go forward.
“It has to be,” said Duncan. “If that is the will of our students, and they want it, they will determine if we have a fee, and that will determine the path will follow. So part of the focus groups is asking them what they feel comfortable paying. And, we still have to have a vote. “
Duncan said other schools that fit UNO’s profile have profited dramatically by making the investment.
“South Alabama, Texas State, Georgia State and Old Dominion are urban institutions like us,” he explained. ”The main reason we want to do this is their enrollment increased 37 percent over the next five or six years. so, this is an enrollment play.
“It took something dramatic for our enrollment to go from 18,000 students to 8,000 students, and it will something equally dramatic to get us back to where we belong.”
The costs are significant. Duncan says without building a stadium, it will cost about $ 4 million to start up. And then there are the yearly costs.
“The average in the Southland is about $ 4 million a year with all of the sports included. marching band, women’s golf, women’s soccer altogether, so it is a package, it’s not just football. “
In February, dozens of Louisiana prep stars signed college football scholarships.
Maybe one day, soon, they will playing for the Privateers.
“We are the only Division I program in the state that doesn’t have football,” said Duncan. “And, in a football-crazed city like New Orleans, we will increase our football profile for sure.”
Duncan said a feasibility study on football will be completed this fall.
Our good friend Ken Trahan, President of Crescent City Sports, is an expert on UNO athletics.
for years, he was the school’s play-by-play voice, and assistant athletic director.
He knows UNO inside and out.
We asked for his insight on many things, including the effort to launch Privateer football.
Check out the video clip from WGNO’s Sports Zone at the top of the post to hear Ken Trahan’s thoughts.
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