Message from the President
program is a goal we've
had since we began offering intercollegiate athletics in the 1980s.”
For decades, San Antonio had the distinction of being the largest city in the United States without a scholarship collegiate football team. Not surprisingly, many talented local high school players regularly left the city in order to pursue their collegiate gridiron dreams elsewhere. Now, they'll have a chance to play football in their hometown.
During the spring, we launched the first collegiate scholarship football program at any local university since the early 1970s. Our team will begin practicing in the fall of 2008 and will begin playing in the fall of 2009.
We feel that offering football is in line with our Mission of providing students the best possible educational experiences within a context of faith. And launching a football program is a goal we've had since we began offering intercollegiate athletics in the 1980s. Let me pause a moment to acknowledge the contributions of the late Dr. Reg Traylor, our former Vice President for Extended Academic Programs, who was an early proponent of a football program but passed away before it became a reality.
Before starting football, we needed to first find the right external supporter, which we did with Tom Benson, who owns the NFL's New Orleans Saints. His support of UIW goes back a quarter century and includes the founding of the Benson Chair in Banking and Finance in the H-E-B School of Business and Administration.
Tom, who has a home in San Antonio, was very excited and supportive when I presented him with the idea of the university offering the only local collegiate scholarship football program. He agreed that football provides potential students, who in the past may have bypassed UIW because we lacked a program, a viable option to play scholarship football within a faith-based environment before their friends and families in San Antonio.
Thanks to Tom's generosity, later this year we will begin construction of a 3,000-seat fieldhouse utilizing land around the existing grandstand that's adjacent to our track and soccer field (but without touching any of the surrounding property that's been designated for the Headwaters Project).
Because football is such an integral part of the sports scene in Texas, an announcement of this magnitude was certain to receive extensive media coverage. And did it ever. The four local television stations gave the news heavy air time while the San Antonio Express-News ran six stories, one of which appeared on the front page (the story was even carried by the newspaper in New Orleans). The media coverage was also commensurate with our standing as Texas' fourth-largest private university and with San Antonio's size as the seventh-largest city in the U.S.
More recently, we hired Mike Santiago to serve as the team's first head coach. Mike brings stellar credentials to the position. He had six winning seasons as the head coach at Stephen F. Austin University, where he claimed the only Southland Conference Championship in the school's history. He also served as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Utah State University and McNeese State University, and at one time was a scout for the NFL's Cleveland Browns.
Besides being a proven winner, Mike fits in with the Mission and values of Incarnate Word. He will be a strong role model for our student-athletes and we are confident that he will do an excellent job of promoting our ideals with the external community. By the way, Mike also becomes the only Hispanic who is a head football coach at a Division II school in Texas and one of a tiny number of minority head coaches at any level of collegiate football in the country.
The Incarnate Word community is indebted to Tom and his wife, Gayle, for bringing collegiate scholarship football to UIW and San Antonio. This is one of the most important endeavors we've ever undertaken, and it would have been impossible without their support.
I encourage you to read the rest of this issue of The Word for more news on the latest happenings at UIW, including the cover story about our engineering management program. It's your commitment to Incarnate Word that allows us to continue fulfilling our Mission. On behalf of the faculty, staff, administration and students of UIW, special blessings on you and your loved ones for 2007.
Louis J. Agnese, Jr., PhD