Shaping Our Future

Campus Experience and Residence Life

FAQ - Athletics Announcement - Women's Lacrosse And Men's Football

The NCAA Division III Philosophy Statement: Colleges and Universities in NCAA Division III place highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of all students' academic programs. They seek to establish and maintain an environment in which a student-athlete's athletic activities are conducted as an integral part of the student-athlete's educational experience, and in which coaches play a significant role as educators.

How was the decision made to add Women's Lacrosse and Men's Football?

The decision to add women's lacrosse and men's football was a natural outcome of the University's supporting strategic direction to enhance the campus experience for students through carefully planned growth of the student body. Today's student-athletes contribute in many positive ways to the campus community and have GPAs and graduation rates equal to or higher than the average for all Southwestern students. An expansion of our varsity sports offerings makes strategic sense. Women's lacrosse is a complement to the recently added men's lacrosse team and men's football gives us the opportunity to add to the enrollment with a significant number of male student-athletes, helping to balance the gender mix across campus. The staff has conducted extensive research of other schools, which have added Division III football programs in recent years. New funding projections indicated the need for $6 million in pledged external support. This support is now in hand and on October 28, 2011, the Board of Trustees voted to accept these gift commitments and to move ahead with a plan to begin playing football in fall 2013 and women's lacrosse in spring 2014.

How will Women's Lacrosse and Men's Football enhance Southwestern's Athletics Program?

Adding these two sports will bring Southwestern's complement of athletic teams to 20, on par with the University's peers in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) and the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS). The addition of both programs is expected to strengthen student recruitment as Southwestern aims to grow its enrollment to approximately 1,500 students as set out in Shaping Our Future: The Strategic Plan for Southwestern University 2010-2020.

How will these sports enhance the overall campus experience?

Enhancing a vibrant student-life experience is imperative to student recruitment and retention. Southwestern's athletics program has always been integral in those efforts.

According to a 2010 Washington Post article, "Small Colleges Find that Adding Football Pays Off in a Lot of Green and More," economics is indeed one reason so many small universities have recently added football. The funding projections at Southwestern showed the two sports generating a surplus after the program is fully operational.

In addition, gender balance was key to the decision. Once football and women's lacrosse are fully operational, they should add approximately 80-100 male student-athletes and 20 female student-athletes, respectively.

How are the two new sports being funded?

Southwestern's Board of Trustees approved reinstating football and inaugurating women's varsity lacrosse, thanks to recent gifts given for this restricted purpose. Five million dollars from Joe Seeber '63, $1 million from Red McCombs '49 and an additional gift from Brent and Joanne Powers Austin '74 are providing the seed money.

During the initial start up of football and women's lacrosse, funding for other University operations should not be affected by these new sports nor will the University's budget be negatively impacted. In fact, in future years, there will be a positive effect.

Startup costs include the building of a field house (locker rooms, showers & restroom facilities, coaches' offices, laundry, storage and cardio/weight training areas), two practice fields, a minimum spectator area (not a stadium), lighting and site access for EMS, parents, etc. A track will be built around one field. The non-facility start-up costs include coaches' salaries, travel, facility and practice equipment, and sports field expenses. New gifts pledged and unrestricted resources will be used to cover cash flow in the start-up years while gift pledges are received over multiple years.

How did Southwestern identify the donors who gave the seed money for these two sports?

The $6 million plus was given for the specific and restricted purpose of reinstating football and adding women's varsity lacrosse. President Schrum approached Joe Seeber '63, former president of The Association of Southwestern University Alumni, knowing of his long-standing interest in football to discuss how adding it and women's lacrosse lined up with all three supporting strategies of Shaping Our Future: The Strategic Plan for 2010-2020:

  • enhancing the campus experience (gender balance and campus vibrancy)
  • building visibility/recognition (additional promotional opportunities)
  • ensuring financial vitality (increased enrollment and net tuition revenue)

Mr. Seeber and President Schrum called on Red McCombs '49 who made his commitment in honor of Joe's leadership.

Will new facilities be built to support lacrosse and football?

Initially, Southwestern will build two new practice fields and a new field house with lockers, showers, offices, laundry, storage and a cardio-weight room. Home football games will be played at Georgetown's new stadium complex. Women's lacrosse home games will be played on the existing lacrosse/soccer fields.

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