Barton College trustees approve plan to start football program

The Division II school in Wilson is best known athletically for winning the 2007 Division II men's basketball national championship

  Following in the footsteps of state schools Charlotte, UNC Pembroke and Campbell over the past decade, Barton College’s Board of Trustees has unanimously approved a proposal to begin a football program at the NCAA Division II school.

  The vote was taken on Saturday and announced Monday. It followed months of deliberation, including a feasibility study that included input from faculty, staff alumni, members of the community and students.

  The next step in the process is  the appointment of an implementation team that will oversee the process of selecting the first coach, building facilities, conference affiliation, scheduling and other details — as well as setting a timeline for when the program will begin play.

  “This is an exciting time for Barton College,” school president Dr. Douglas N. Searcy said in a statement. “During the past three years, Barton College has focused on being bold. We’ve set that course of action internally for our faculty and staff. And, everyday, we are moving forward boldly, addressing new initiatives and doing tremendous work with our students.

  “We know that we also have to make choices institutionally that will continue to expand our footprint and provide new and exciting opportunities for our students as well as positively engage our friends and partners in the community. Bringing football to campus is exactly that kind of bold choice. Football will undoubtedly create a tremendous surge of energy and enthusiasm among students, as well as faculty, staff, alumni, and the Wilson community.”

  The addition of football is part of the school’s “BartonBold” Strategic Plan, which is designed to provide programs and opportunities that “encourage the intellectual, spiritual, social,

and cultural development of its students.”

  It will also help improve a disproportionate gender ratio of 70/30 women-to-man on the Wilson campus.

  According to the release announcing the decision, “Energy around the football program will strengthen and encourage greater levels of involvement and engagement from all across the campus and community … while fostering school spirit (and furthering)  Barton’s influence in the community, region, and beyond.”

  Barton currently fields teams in 20 sports (10 male, 10 female) as a member of the Carolinas Conference. Its most celebrated accomplishment came in 2007, when the Bulldogs beat Winona State for the Division II men’s basketball national championship.