Augusta, GA…..After years of speculation and anticipation, Paine College President, Dr. George C. Bradley, formally announced plans to revive football at the 131 year-old Liberal Arts Institution that sits in the heart of Augusta, Georgia. During the fall meeting of the Paine College Board of Trustees, the governing body voted unanimously to revive the sport that has been absent for fifty years.
“The wheels are in motion to have a full football program by 2014,” said Tim Duncan, Athletics Director during his address to faculty, staff, students and alumni who attended the morning press conference held on the front lawn of Haygood-Holsey Hall, Friday, October 26th. He went on to say that as early as 2013, the College had plans to recruit a Coach to lead the program and expected to acquire student athletes to participate in Club Ball during the fall 2013 semester.
Attorney Sharyn Doanes Bergin, President of the Paine College National Alumni Association, commented that she was ecstatic about the revival of football at her Alma Mater. She commented that the football program would spur alumni participation on many levels. Annie Rogers, President of the Augusta Alumni Chapter, learning of the new development, said “There is nothing like college football, especially at Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). I welcome the day that I can experience college football at Paine College.”
A feasibility study was implemented in September 2011 and during the process, students, alumni and members of the Central Savannah River Area community (CSRA) were surveyed. The survey examined annual operating costs, infrastructure needs, initial expenses to start a team, staffing needs, and a timetable for implementing a football team. Of particular note, constituents who were surveyed overwhelmingly were in favor of starting a football program at Paine.
Historically, Paine College athletics has consistently placed emphasis on academic excellence. Paine’s 1951 football team produced two college presidents, an Assistant Vice Chancellor for the University System of Georgia, five athletes who earned doctoral degrees, one of which was a Geologist at the University of Chicago, and several athletes who earned graduate degrees. The 2012 valedictorian was a Paine College student-athlete. The College will continue to emphasize academic excellence within its football program.
Historian Mallory Millender believes that a football program will tremendously improve the quality of campus life, pride and morale. “One of the first questions that students from other colleges and universities ask of a Paine student is: “tell me about your football program or tell me about your Marching Band. The Paine student often responds “we don’t have one.”
“We expect football will increase the College’s economic impact on the community,” said Dr. Elias Etinge, Vice President of Student affairs. “Equally important, is that football will enhance campus life”
Implementing a successful football program is impacted by timing. Paine will open the new state-of-the-art Health Education Activities Learning (HEAL) Complex, the new home for the Department of Athletics in early 2013. Keeping aligned with the Institution’s Strategic Plan, the College is looking to develop housing and residential facilities in anticipation of increased enrollment.
“This is an exciting day for all of the fans, alumni, and supporters of Paine College,” said Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Commissioner Greg Moore. “We are thrilled about the prospect of Paine College launching a new football program. The SIAC Community congratulates President Bradley and Athletic Director Tim Duncan for their new development.”
“The Augusta Sports Council (Council) is thrilled that Paine College will field a football team beginning in 2014,” said Brinsley Thigpen, CEO for the Council. “In addition to the exciting spectator opportunities, it will offer our local residents; the visiting teams and fans will provide a positive influence to our local economy by once again increasing visitor spending due to sports tourism. The addition of football is evidence of the continued growth and success of the Paine College Athletics Department and the interest and support of sports in Augusta.” “We look forward to supporting them in this exciting endeavor,” said Thigpen.
“Overall football will impact every area of the College,” said Duncan. Football will facilitate increased opportunities for fundraising, improve student school spirit, enhance the visibility of the College, and create opportunities for the College to start a Marching Band and Drumline”
For more information, please contact Kimberly May, Sports Information Director, at 706.821.8379, Kmay@paine.edu, or Leah Suggs, Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing, at 706.821.8322, Lsuggs@paine.edu.
Photo Caption: Paine College Athletic Director Tim Duncan (left) with mascot Leon the Lion (right), holding a Paine College football helmet.