Since the October announcement that Paine College is starting a football team, athletic director Tim Duncan said interest has been high.
“It’s been tremendous,” he said. “Everywhere I go, people recognize me from the announcement. More importantly, they’re excited about it.”
As of Monday, Duncan said he’s received between 45 and 50 applicants for the head coaching job. He said he’s looking to pare the number to three and bring the finalists to campus next week. Duncan said he wants to hire a coach by Jan. 1, but it will take a candidate with many good qualities.
“We want someone with great character from a winning background,” he said. “We want this person to be good in the community and be a great role model for the kids.”
Duncan said he’s received applications from Division I Division II and high school teams, though most come from Division II. One applicant received a recommendation from the Denver Broncos, though it wasn’t head coach John Fox who called, Duncan said.
Duncan said he’s been flooded with interest from potential players. He said he’d like to have 50 players for the first day of practice next fall.
“That’s a tall order,” he said. “But with the right coach, that’s achievable.”
The new coach will begin the recruiting process immediately. Paine already has a “recruiting” tab on its football page at paineathletics.com.
The team will begin play in 2014 in NCAA Division II in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Paine’s football steering committee – a cross-section of more than 20 community members that includes coaches, former athletes, school administrators and supporters – recently held its first meeting. The group will soon start fundraising for the program, a plan Duncan said is “not just for the super wealthy, but for the common fan.”
“We see ourselves as Augusta’s team,” he said. “We want people from Columbia County. We want people from North Augusta. And we want people from Richmond County as well.”