Cedric Maxwell led the 49ers to the 1977 NCAA men’s basketball Final Four and played for 11 years in the NBA. He is now a radio commentator for Boston Celtics games.
“I’m astounded how Judy Rose put this together. I was skeptical about it at first, but they’ve done it right, it looks like to me. I went out there a few weeks ago and took a tour of the campus (which I didn’t even recognize) and went to the football stadium. I was blown away by it.
“I really got a sense of the excitement. This makes the university whole, at least on the sports side. It’s not just a basketball school now. It’s not going to be a football power, at least immediately, but it puts you in line to grow.
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“I didn’t miss having football when I was there. The basketball players were the kings on the throne. We didn’t want to share any celebrity!
“I don’t have tickets, because my job takes up a lot of time during football season. But I’m looking to buy a couple of tickets to the game against against N.C. Central, which is where my mom went.
“My son Devin is playing football right up the road at Central Cabarrus High. He’s a 6-5, 275 offensive and defensive lineman. Hopefully he’ll be the next Maxwell at Charlotte!”
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson represents North Carolina’s 8th Congressional district. He graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1996.
“From the time I was a student, there’s been talk of, ‘We wish we had a football team.’ My fraternity used to sell T-shirts to raise money that said ‘Undefeated, untied, never scored on.’
“It’s something that’s always been on students’ minds. A lot of us were still skeptical it would really happen. A lot of guys I was in school with are planning on being back for the first game. It’s really exciting.
“A football program can raise awareness for the school, it can generate brand loyalty. Typically not very many programs break even financially, so it’s not necessarily a big boon financially but it certainly enhances the student experience.
“When I was in school, obviously we sort of had basketball season and we’d have tailgating and events around the basketball schedule but in the fall, friends at other universities had the whole tailgating experience and a lot of tradition built around their football team and we didn’t have that. For a lot of us we’d go to games at Chapel Hill or N.C. State or other places and experience it. We lamented that we didn’t have that experience, that UNC Charlotte football experience.”
Former heavyweight boxer Calvin Brock graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1999. He competed in the 2000 Olympics and fought for the world heavyweight title against Wladimir Klitschko at Madison Square Garden in 2006.
“Oh, man, I was just so glad. Back when I was working (at the school), I was raising money for it. I knew it would happen. I just didn’t know when.
“With no football team, everyone just goes home on the weekend. It was like a ghost town on campus on the weekends. There was nothing to bring alumni back after they graduated.. I think they already have a huge increase in alumni coming back to campus over football and I think that will increase over the years. Within the next three years, they will probably have to add more rows to the stadium.”