MCALLEN, RGV – A feasibility study on the merits of starting a football program at UT-Rio Grande Valley could be released as early as next week, says Rick Anderson, UTRGV’s executive vice president for finance and administration.
The 22-member college football feasibility committee was setup by UTRGV President Guy Bailey in early 2016, with legendary coach Mack Brown as its chairman.
“Hopefully, next week, we will be releasing our football feasibility study,” Anderson told the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, at a board meeting last Thursday. “We wanted to release it this Spring, so the students have a chance to look at it and ask questions.”
Anderson explained the procedure, once the report is released.
“We do expect a student vote coming this fall. If we assume that is positive it would go to the board. It would require student approval and then board approval sometime this fall. And then, of course, it takes several years to get up and running.”
The football feasibility committee has been looking at how other universities have set up football programs in recent years, to determine best practices. Among those it has looked at is UT-San Antonio, which began its football program in 2011.
“So, we have looked at UTSA and a number of other campuses. Hopefully, next week, we will see some type of public announcement.”
UTRGV was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. It replaced the Valley’s legacy universities, UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville. When he announced the formation of the football feasibility study, UTRGV’s Bailey said it would be a subset of the process of developing the university’s founding strategic and master plans.
“This is a very important and exciting time for UTRGV,” Bailey said at the time he announced the football feasibility study. “As we work on our strategic and master plans, it is important that we examine all aspects of our future. This is an ideal time for our university to explore the possibility of bringing college football to the Rio Grande Valley.”
The committee Bailey set up included special advisers, faculty and staff, student leaders and community members. College Sports Solutions, LLC, was hired as consultants. It was tasked with taking into account support within the community, potential infrastructure and funding models, and NCAA requirements for football programs at both the FCS and FBS levels.
“Starting the process for a football feasibility study is a major step forward in our goal to elevate UTRGV Athletics,” said Chris King, UTRGV director of athletics, said at the time. “It is important that this study take into account all factors, including support in the community, potential infrastructure and funding models, and NCAA requirements for football programs at both the FCS and FBS levels. We are excited that the legendary Mack Brown will use his extensive experience to guide us through this study.”
Brown has been involved with college football as both a player and coach since 1969. He served as head coach at Appalachian State (1983), Tulane (1985-87) and North Carolina (1988-97), but he is best known for his stint with the University of Texas (1998-2013), where he won a national championship in 2005 and played for another in 2009. Brown retired in 2013 and now serves as a Special Assistant to the Men’s Athletics Director and President at The University of Texas, and as a college football analyst for He is currently a college football commentator for ESPN. In January 2018, Brown was selected to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
“I am thrilled and honored to have been selected to lead this committee,” Brown said at the time the feasibility committee was launched. “The opportunity to build a college football program from the ground up is unique, and I’m excited to be involved in the process. I know there are many passionate football fans in the Rio Grande Valley, and I can’t think of a better place to launch a college football program.”
College Sports Solutions was tasked with taking into account all factors in this feasibility study, including support in the community, potential infrastructure and funding models, and NCAA requirements for football programs at both the FCS and FBS levels. Its fee was $100,000, including expenses.
FCS stands for Football Championship Subdivision. FCS teams play for an NCAA championship trophy through a playoff format. FCS football teams in Texas are: Abilene Christian University; Houston Baptist University; University of the Incarnate Word; Lamar University; Prairie View A&M University; Sam Houston State University; Stephen F. Austin State University; and Texas Southern University. There are 125 FCS programs in the nation for the 2016 season, according to the NCAA.
FBS is the acronym for Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly the D-1A teams. FBS teams play bowl games after their conference championships. FBS football teams in Texas are Baylor University; University of Houston; North Texas State University; Rice University; Southern Methodist University; Texas Christian University; The University of Texas at Austin; Texas A&M University; Texas State University; Texas Tech University; The University of Texas at El Paso; and The University of Texas at San Antonio. As of 2014, there are 10 conferences and 128 schools in the FBS, according to Wikipedia.
In addition to Brown, the football feasibility study has comprised:
- Alberto Adame, UTRGV Student Government Association Representative
- Michael Aldape, Program Coordinator, Early College
- Dr. Janna Arney, Vice President for Operations, Chief of Staff
- Dr. Alberto Davila, Professor, Economics
- Alondra Galvan, UTRGV Student Government Association Representative
- Veronica Gonzales, Vice President for Governmental and Community Relations, and former State Representative for House District 41 in Hidalgo County
- Dr. Paul Sale, Faculty Athletics Representative
- Julia Perez, Vice President, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Women’s Tennis Student-Athlete
- Lew Stallworth, Men’s Basketball Student-Athlete
- Alonzo Cantu, UTRGV Foundation Board Member, CEO, Cantu Entertainment Group
- Dan Martinez, CEO, Dan Martinez & Associates LP
- David Oliveira, Attorney, Roerig, Oliveira & Fisher, L.L.P.
- Val LaMantia Peisen, L&F Distributors, LLC
- Dr. Nolan Perez, MD, Gastroenterology Consultants
- Gene Powell, former member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents; CEO, Bitterblue, Inc.; CEO,The Powell Companies
- Tudor Uhlhorn, President, Rio Grande Equipment Co.
- Bob Vackar, CEO, Bert Ogden Auto Group
- The Honorable Rose Vela, Attorney at Law
- Oliver Luck, Executive Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and former Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at West Virginia University (WVU), his alma mater, a retired American football player who spent five seasons in the National Football League (NFL) as a quarterback for the Houston Oilers (1982–1986), and also the first president and general manager of the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer (MLS). Under his watch, the Dynamo won the MLS Cup in 2006 and 2007.
- Mike Vollmar, Senior Associate Director for Football Administration, University of Tennessee; former Director, Football Operations at the University of Alabama, University of Michigan and Michigan State University
- Alan Marks, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs & Athletics Counsel, University of Texas System
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story was produced by The Rider, the student newspaper of UT-Rio Grande Valley.