In a year during which one Charlotte university has already started a football program, another will explore the possibility of doing the same thing.
Queens announced Friday that it will begin a feasibility study on adding football on the NCAA Division II level. The school will hire a consultant to study factors such as cost, impact on academics and residential planning, as well as the critical matter of finding a place to play.
“We are intrigued by the possibility of football and what it could mean to the Royals athletics program and the overall Queens experience,” Queens president Pamela Davies said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to engaging in the process.”
A task force headed by Queens vice-president of enrollment Brian Ralph will present the feasibility study’s findings at a board of trustees meeting in February.
“We’ve got a lot of homework to do,“ said Ralph. “But we know that football can really enhance the student experience in college and that’s something we feel like we should be looking at.”
Queens’ potential move to football would follow a local and national trend. According to the National Football Foundation, 12 schools – including UNC Charlotte – started playing the sport this season and 56 have made the decision to begin the sport since 2008. Other schools in North Carolina that have recently begun football include UNC Pembroke and Brevard, both in 2007.
Another Charlotte-area school, Winthrop, is also investigating adding the sport.
“We also know that there are lots of schools that looked into football and decided against it,” said Ralph. “So we’re going to talk to them, too.”
If Queens decides to add football, the Royals would have a league in which to play. Queens recently joined the 12-school South Atlantic Conference as one of four non-football members (along with Coker, Lincoln Memorial and Anderson). The SAC is one of Division II’s top football leagues, including Carolinas schools with proud histories in the sport such as Lenoir-Rhyne, Catawba and Wingate.
“We’re close already, but having a school with a football team in the actual Charlotte market would be huge for us and for Queens,” said SAC commissioner Patrick Britz. “Seeing what it’s done at UNC Charlotte is a pretty good indication that there’s interest.”
The 49ers, in their first season as a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) independent, have sold out four of their first five games at Richardson Stadium.
Queens doesn’t have a stadium, nor is there room to add one on its compact campus located in the middle of Charlotte’s Myers Park neighborhood.
“That’s the one thing we know, the one decision we don’t have to make,” said Ralph. “We’re going to have to find a place to play. The good news is that we’re in Charlotte and there are plenty of stadiums around.”
Myers Park High or Memorial Stadium, both located within minutes of Queens, could be solutions.
The school’s existing outdoor sports all play on off-campus sites: soccer and lacrosse at the Queens Sports Complex on Tyvola Road, softball at Park Road Park, track and field at Myers Park, cross-country at McAlpine Greenway Park and tennis at Freedom Park.
The school recently opened the on-campus Levine Center, where the Royals’ basketball, volleyball and swimming teams compete.
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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