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Economy doesn’t faze UNC-Charlotte plans for football program

While administrators at most universities are making deep budget cuts, the Board of Trustees at UNC-Charlotte approved a plan last week to fund a football program.

Administrators were worried that the economic downturn would delay their plans, but support from students, alumni and the community helped in gaining the trustees’ approval, said Darin Spease, senior associate athletic director at UNC-C.

The program, which has been in the works for many years, now has a timeline to start recruiting athletes in 2012 and kick off competitively in 2013.

“The chancellor is still working to refine the plan, but we are still shooting for 2013,” said Eugene Johnson, secretary of the Board of Trustees and chairman of the committee responsible for football fundraising.

The Board of Trustees approved more than $1 million from private funds, not institutional or public ones, Spease said.

Sixty percent of the program will be funded through student fees. The rest will be funded by ticket sales, donor support and other sources.

The Student Government Association at UNC-C conducted a survey and found that 78 percent of students were in favor of a fee increase to support the football program, said Joey Lemons, student body president at UNC-C.

“Football will make a tremendous contribution to the university. It will bring people together, tie the university within the community, and the amount of student spirit will be exponentially increased,” Lemons said.

For the 2010-11 school year, the student fee will be $50, but it will double for the 2011-12 school year, Spease said.

The university has also received money from the community, corporations and private donors for the program through its fundraising projects.

It has raised nearly $4 million through the sale of seat licenses, which allow people to own a set of seats for games and the right to own or sell tickets for those seats.

UNC-C’s plan also encompasses the construction of a building facility for athletes and a stadium capable of seating 40,000 people.

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