Football team officially coming to Roanoke College in 2024

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 9:05 AM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ/Roanoke College Release) - Roanoke College has raised the funds needed to reinstate football as a varsity sport.

Roanoke College reports it has raised more than $1.3 million, enough to start a football team, a cheerleading squad and a marching band program.

“It’s a big deal to raise $1.3 million in 45 days,” said Roanoke College President Frank Shushok Jr. “That is an indication of the level of enthusiasm.”

This is not the first time the college has had a football team. The previous program was discontinued in 1942 because of the Second World War. Shushok Jr. says bringing back the first downs to touchdowns will also bring the community together.

“Cheer on student athletes, to dance a little to a marching band and raise participation in local restaurants and businesses,” added Shushok Jr. “This is a win-win-win for Roanoke College, for Salem and the Roanoke Valley.”

In April, the Roanoke College Board of Trustees approved a proposal to add the programs on the condition that start-up funding of $1.2 million was in place by June 1.

“The response to our fundraising has been incredible,” said Kim Blair ‘93, vice president of advancement. “So many members of our community are energized by the idea of a new football team at Roanoke — plus the spirit that a marching band and cheer team can bring. Our Maroon community and local Roanoke Valley partners stepped forward in a big way with the investments we need now. We are thankful for their commitment to help us grow and thrive. We met our first goal, and I’m optimistic about what the future holds.”

The initial funds raised will be used to hire coaches and meet start-up needs including equipment, uniforms, and renovation of space for the three programs. Roanoke College’s athletic director will commission the process for selecting a football coach, and player recruitment will take place over the next year.

The College’s current plan recommends minimizing costs with a conservative investment and upgrading existing underutilized facilities. Alumni Field will be used for practice and the Bast Center will be upgraded to accommodate locker rooms, training facilities, offices, and a weight room.

The plan is for Salem Stadium, a 7,157-seat facility near Roanoke College’s Elizabeth Campus, to be the site of future games. Salem Stadium is already the home of Salem High School’s Spartans, and it hosted the NCAA Division III Football Championship, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, for many years.

The football program will start as a club sport in the fall of 2024 and work toward becoming a varsity program in 2025. The goal is to recruit 50 football players, 50 band members, and 30 competitive cheerleaders as part of the fall 2024 entering class.

Roanoke College recently announced that Curtis Campbell was selected as the new director of athletics. Campbell will work with college leadership, the Athletics Department, and other invested partners to reintroduce football in 2024.