Paine College to bring back football

Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 11:14 AM
Last updated 10:30 PM
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Soon after he was hired 18 months ago, athletic director Tim Duncan held conversations with Paine College President George Bradley about the possibility of restarting football.

Paine College President George C. Bradley (right) and AD Tim Duncan hold a helmet after announcing the college will restart its football program after a 50-year absence.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Paine College President George C. Bradley (right) and AD Tim Duncan hold a helmet after announcing the college will restart its football program after a 50-year absence.

After the sport’s 50-year absence, Bradley and Duncan unveiled a white helmet with a purple logo Friday morning. The Lions will start playing football again in 2014 in NCAA Division II in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

“We think this is the right time to bring back football,” Duncan said. “We’re excited to add to the student experience here at Paine College.”

Retired NFL official and current NFL game official observer Keven Mack said Augusta is hungry for a football team.

“It’s utopia for a community to have football,” he said. “This is huge.”

Duncan revealed plans to revive the sport after working with an extensive, 13-month feasibility study. Now, there’s plenty to do to get started.

The school will hire a head coach within the next 90 days, Duncan said. That coach will then hire up to six assistants and will also begin recruiting players.

“Hiring the right coach is the key,” Duncan said. “Alabama struggled for many years. Then, they hired Nick Saban. All of a sudden, they’re a juggernaut.”

With approximately 800 students at Paine, the school likely will see a 10 percent growth in enrollment in the coming years. Duncan said the football team, which will have a maximum of 36 scholarships per NCAA Division II rules, likely will add 80 players to its initial roster.

As for the future site of home games, Duncan said he’s not ready to announce that yet, though Laney High School, with its six-year-old, 9,000-seat stadium, is a viable option. He added the team will practice on the school’s baseball field.

While Duncan and other Paine officials answered logistical questions, they didn’t address one main concern: Cost.

“I don’t want to identify those,” Duncan said. “We identified it in the feasibility study. We’ve done some things to mitigate some costs that most people would think about.”

Brandon Brown, vice president for institutional advancement, also would not estimate the cost but said the funding for the football program will be covered through philanthropy and grants.

While the school has aggressive fund-raising efforts, it is also addressing financial trouble that caused its accrediting body to place the school on a one-year warning period in June.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges cited Paine with six compliance violations, including financial stability, control of finances and control of financial aid programs.

In March, Paine faced a $3.6 million shortfall that Bradley attributed to a drop in enrollment. The school also had a cash deficit of $2 million through July as expenses outweighed revenue, according to documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.

“We’re going to sit down and come up with a strategic plan for fund-raising for football,” Brown said. “You’re building it from the ground up … it’s an undertaking.”

According to a 2010 article from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, LeMoyne-Owen, a private school and one of Paine’s SIAC rivals, planned to start football by this season. The start-up cost was announced to be $1.5 million, with operating costs of $500,000 a year.

Paine also will incur additional costs by adding at least two women’s sports to satisfy Title IX. Duncan said within the next two years the school is planning to add women’s golf and is considering women’s tennis and bowling as well.

While Duncan wouldn’t divulge any numbers, he did say the start-up cost for football alone would be less than $2 million. He added part of the funding will come from the increased enrollment and the other part will come from community support.

“We’re going to need the community to step up and help bring college football back to Augusta,” Duncan said. “We’re the second-largest community in the state – without football. It’s going to take a community effort to do that.”

Paine has formulated a football steering committee, which currently consists of Mack, Augusta City Classic president and Augusta Economic Development Authority chairman Henry Ingram and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney financial advisor Haskell Toporek, president of the Augusta Sports Council. Former S.C. State coach Willie Jeffries, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, is the honorary chair of the committee.

Duncan said the purpose of the steering committee is to: raise awareness, provide a sounding board and to help raise funds.

Paine last played football in 1962. The Lions’ last win came against Livingstone College. Duncan said he’s trying to schedule them for the school’s first season.

Staff writer Tracey McManus contributed to this story

Comments (11) Add comment
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Jake
32345
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Jake 10/26/12 - 11:44 am
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Funding

I wonder how the funding for this endeavour is going to be handled. Do they have a field? Practice equipment, uniforms, training and locker rooms, etc, cost big bucks now-a-days. I wish them well and hope they are successful. Didn't they lose their golf team recently because of funding issues?

CryoCyberTronics
392
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CryoCyberTronics 10/26/12 - 11:46 am
4
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Pain Football

Way to go Pain College let get rolling it's been a long time coming ...!

142
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Dan White 10/26/12 - 02:04 pm
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funding and stadium

Private individuals stepped up to help fund Paine's golf program. An annual fund-raising golf tournament was started and continues. Obviously, community funding will have to play a big part in their new football program.

A stadium is readily available. Tomorrow, Albany State plays Benedict at Laney's beautiful, new stadium which is better than many small colleges have. A large crowd, even perhaps a full house will be there. If Paine and Laney/RCBOE can work up a lease agreement to use the stadium, Paine will have a wonderful facility for Saturday afternoon football games.

Where there's a will, there's a way.

kiwiinamerica
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kiwiinamerica 10/26/12 - 03:00 pm
0
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Money spinner...
Unpublished

Paine needs some extra income. Yes, uniforms etc., cost money but they'll be hoping that this is more than offset by people paying to come through the turnstiles.

ASU....er......whatever it's called now, can also start a football program and they can play Paine in the "Save the A" Bowl.

Sweet son
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Sweet son 10/26/12 - 07:51 pm
2
2
What a Joke!

Can't manage the academic funding so how will they manage a football team! Guess they are looking for an ESPN contract. Sorry to be critical but their priorities are not in the right place!

avidreader
3128
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avidreader 10/27/12 - 05:59 am
3
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$$$$

Here's an analogy. A man is several months behind on the payment for his Honda Accord and decides to purchase a new Lexus.

rebellious
20630
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rebellious 10/27/12 - 06:13 am
2
2
Yaaawwwwnnnnn......

Yaaawwwwnnnnn......

justputtin
1384
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justputtin 10/27/12 - 06:40 am
4
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Good luck

Football can drive revenue. I hope they get support. Kevin Mack and Haskell Toporek are two fine men and will get things done. Tim Duncan, the AD, is extremely qualified. They have good people here. Good luck.

KSL
126832
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KSL 10/27/12 - 08:55 am
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Justputtin

I do too.

Now do you think they have beaten out GRUA for having a college football team?

I would think GRUA would have more fans in the stadium who could rush down to the field when there are injuries to players. Wait, they are probably working or studying or sleeping in between.

At any rate, good luck to Paine.

KSL
126832
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KSL 10/27/12 - 09:07 am
2
1
Now, if we, my spouse and I

Now, if we, my spouse and I, can keep recovering from the 100K swat down we took in income last year going forward, I would be more than willing to aid in their fund raising.

KSL
126832
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KSL 10/27/12 - 09:22 am
2
1
Swatdown, Obama induced.

Swatdown, Obama induced. Ongoing recovery, individual incentive produced.

Yes, we did build it! No thanks to you, Obama.

justputtin
1384
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justputtin 10/27/12 - 10:43 am
1
1
KSL

Totally agree with all posts.

KSL
126832
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KSL 10/27/12 - 10:52 am
1
1
Thank you.

Thank you.

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