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HBU to start playing football

Assuming they can find someone to play with, that is.

The [Houston Baptist University] board of trustees, after conducting a financial feasibility study this year, gave its approval to add football pending alignment with a conference in Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

“Our board’s approval is contingent, but we are ready to go when we get an invitation from a conference,” [school president Robert B. Sloan Jr.] said.

[...]

Sloan said HBU has reached out to several conferences, among them the Southland Conference and Summit League, to express the school’s willingness to add football if invited to join the leagues.

“The idea is to get in a conference that we feel like has some regional connection, some natural rivalries that we can develop,” Sloan said.

The SLC would offer the best regional alignment for HBU, with neighboring football-playing members Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin and Lamar, along with four Louisiana schools and Central Arkansas.

The SLC will lose Texas State and Texas-San Antonio to the Western Athletic Conference in 2012.

But at the league’s spring meetings May 25, SLC presidents did not consider adding any new members — the league will stand at 10 after Texas State and UTSA depart following next season — in the near future.

“While interested in continuing to survey the national and regional landscape for future possibilities, the board did not consider membership expansion,” SLC commissioner Tom Burnett said in a statement. “The Southland has confirmed plans to be an organization of 10 member universities beginning next summer.

“President Sloan and other HBU officials have graciously shared their future athletics plan with us, including the possibility of football sponsorship, and we certainly wish them well in the university’s successful return to Division I.”

The Summit League doesn’t currently include football, but four of its member schools play it, in different conferences. I presume they’d want to add at least a sixth football-playing team before they took on the sport. HBU wouldn’t start playing until two years after getting a conference invitation, so don’t go inquiring about season tickets just yet.

I understand the allure of football for a school, but I have to wonder if HBU is thinking about this clearly.

[Sloan] said the school has the available land on campus to accommodate practice fields, locker rooms and other training facilities.

Sloan said the building of an on-campus stadium is a future option, but the school will seek to lease a current stadium for home games.

Based on the financial feasibility study for playing in FCS, Sloan said HBU has determined it could break even after the third year of the program.

Really? Because last I checked, football was considered a sucker’s game. That article is almost a decade old now, so perhaps things have changed. I’d still love to know what assumptions went into that study. Regardless, I wish HBU the best of luck in getting their program off the ground. Maybe some day I’ll see their squad pay Rice Stadium a visit.

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2 Comments

  1. Greg Wythe says:

    I would hope that Rice isn’t that desperate for wins, but I like the idea of HBU v SFA level competition within walking distance of my home.

  2. [...] Board of Trustees gave its approval to pursue football in June. Landing in the SLC, which is a much better geographic fit for HBU and [...]

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