Campbell University's announcement Friday, April 7, that it will once again field a varsity football program in 2008 brought "hoahs" from students. Wafting their way through a stage filled with orange fog, Campbell President Dr. Jerry Wallace, Trustee Chairman Fred Taylor, Executive Committee Chairman Bob Barker and Student Government Association President Michelle Efird waved shiny black helmets emblazoned with a huge orange "CU." "Are you ready for some Campbell football?" shouted Campbell sports announcer Robert Harper from off-stage. At which point, the almost filled to capacity Turner Auditorium erupted in cheers. "It will really be good for recruiting students," said freshman Kyle Higgins of Yadkinville, N.C. Higgins is a religion major and loves football. "I actually played linebacker in high school," he said. Wallace discussed the reasons behind Campbell's decision to bring back football after more than five decades. "Throughout my 36 years at Campbell University, the two most frequently asked questions have been, 'When will there be a convocation center built and when will Campbell add football to the athletic program?'" said Wallace. "I'm happy to announce that the convocation center is on the way and the Campbell football team will be competing on the field in fall 2008." A member of the NCAA Division I ranks since 1977 and of the Atlantic Sun Conference since 1994, Campbell will compete against similar non-scholarship programs on the Division 1 and non-1 levels. Home games will be played at a yet to be constructed on-campus site near the softball field. "We believe Campbell will develop a competitive non-scholarship football program and we hope to be able to compete in the Pioneer Football League as early as the 2008 football season," said Stan Williamson director of Athletics at Campbell. Fellow Atlantic Sun Conference member Jacksonville University added non-scholarship football in 1998 and competes in the Pioneer Football League along with Davidson, Butler, Dayton, Drake, Morehead State, San Diego and Valparaiso. Williamson explained that the Division I-AA non-scholarship program allows Campbell to enjoy campus life enhancements without the financial burden tied to providing scholarships to be competitive at the scholarship level. In addition, the University will add competitive, practice and other football-related facilities on campus over the next two years. The plan is to develop practice fields, locker room and office facilities as well as a new football stadium before the start of competition in the fall of 2008. Corey Mitchell, a sophomore from Harmony, N.C., was thrilled with Campbell's plan. "Campbell is involved in a growing process right now," he said. "Football will be great for Campbell's growth and great for Harnett County." Several members of Campbell's last football team in 1950 and some who went as far back as the team of 1939 received a standing ovation at the press conference. "We thank you so much for listening to our cries for a football team," Efird told the administration, Board of Trustees and Presidential Board of Advisors. "We know this will be great for weekend involvement at Campbell, which is something the SGA has been working on for many years."
Photo Copy: Campbell cheerleader Kaitlin Waters, of Greenville, N.C., is excited about the school's announcement to add football to the athletic program in fall 2008.