NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — That’s what the University of New Orleans should have been doing years ago — and that’s playing football.
The Southland Conference, which has lost its members, needs the UN to play football. and the UN needs it.
From August to almost January every year, the university has no sports profile with the public.
Royal 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 less than an hour from New Orleans, got more publicity than the Privateers.
For years we’ve heard the naysayers say it couldn’t be done. they were unwilling to try anything different – even when school enrollment plummeted.
It was a flawed thought.
Why football now? Well, registration.
Football and its success attract students.
In Alabama, since the arrival of Nick Saban, registrations have exploded.
UNO won’t be Alabama, but in a city with so many outstanding high school footballers, I think UNO could be very good, very quickly.
At the recent NCAA Final Four press conference, I visited Tim Duncan, Director of Athletics at the University of New Orleans.
During this semester, UNO students will ask the University of Louisiana system to approve a vote to increase fees to support a football-inclusive package.
The student vote could take place in November.
Without the student’s agreement, it is very doubtful that the project will go ahead.
“It has to be,” Duncan said. “If that is what our students want, and they want it, they will determine if we have a fee, and that will determine the path forward. Some of the focus groups therefore ask them what they feel comfortable paying. And, we still have to vote.
Duncan said other schools that fit the UN profile have benefited enormously from this investment.
“Southern Alabama, Texas State, Georgia State, and Old Dominion are urban institutions like us,” he explained. “The main reason we want to do this is that their enrollment has increased by 37% over the next five or six years. so, it’s a registration game.
“It took something dramatic to take our enrollment from 18,000 students to 8,000 students, and it will take something equally dramatic to get us back where we belong.”
The costs are significant. Duncan says without building a stadium, it will cost around $4 million to get started. And then there are the annual costs.
“The average in Southland is around $4 million a year with all sports included. marching band, women’s golf, women’s football all in all, so it’s a package, it’s not just football.
In February, dozens of Louisiana prep stars signed college football scholarships.
Maybe one day soon they will play for the Privateers.
“We’re the only Division I program in the state that doesn’t have football,” Duncan said. “And, in a soccer-crazed city like New Orleans, we’re definitely going to raise our soccer profile.”
Duncan said a football feasibility study will be completed this fall.
Our good friend Ken Trahan, president of Crescent City Sports, is an expert in 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 opinion on many things, including the Privateer football launch effort.
Check out the WGNO Sports Zone music video at the top of the post to hear Ken Trahan’s thoughts.
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