Chicago State College is transferring towards establishing a Division I soccer program, forming a college committee to evaluate the potential for making a staff.
The college on Thursday introduced the committee members at a information convention Thursday. They embody former NFL gamers Howard Griffith, Vaughn Bryant, Tom Thayer and Otis Wilson, together with a number of Chicago highschool soccer coaches, neighborhood leaders and college officers.
The committee ought to present a suggestion on the speculative soccer program’s future this spring, CSU athletic director Monique Carroll mentioned.
“If that’s favorable, we may very well be Chicago’s solely Division I program, proper right here on the South Aspect,” Carroll mentioned. “We are going to probably begin soccer as early as fall 2025.”
The college already has carried out a feasibility research on the prospect of the soccer program, and the exploratory committee is now the “subsequent step,” Carroll mentioned. The committee additionally will contemplate including new girls’s sports activities groups.
Numerous questions in regards to the doable soccer program have but to be answered. It’s unclear how the staff can be paid for or the place it will play video games. However as soccer helmets with inexperienced Cougar decals sat earlier than faculty officers, a marching band opened the information convention with brassy tunes and a muscled mascot danced, faculty leaders have been clearly optimistic this system would turn out to be a actuality.
“I feel that the necessary work of the committee is to look and see what’s the street map, what are the steps that must occur,” Carroll mentioned. “Is it fall ‘24, ‘25, ‘26? To actually give you actionable gadgets and timetables.”
She additionally acknowledged the committee may decide that this system mustn’t go ahead.
The general public college within the Far South Aspect’s Roseland neighborhood is Illinois’ solely four-year college federally designated as predominantly Black. The college has at instances struggled with excessive–profile lawsuits and low enrollment within the final decade, together with enrolling simply 86 freshmen in fall 2016. However freshmen and sophomore enrollment has grown sharply over the past yr, Chicago State President Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott mentioned.
Total enrollment decreased 2.1% in 2022, with 2,296 college students enrolled within the fall, in keeping with a college information launch.
The doable soccer program “is one a part of our ongoing focus to enhance the standard of pupil life, to make Chicago State College a extra engaging vacation spot for brand new college students and to contribute to the continuing financial improvement of our neighborhood,” Scott mentioned.
The college operates seven males’s and eight girls’s Division I sports activities applications. The Cougars left the Western Athletic Convention in June, although Carroll mentioned she expects the college will be part of a brand new convention within the subsequent yr, a choice that doubtless will probably be affected by the prospect of a soccer program.
The college’s baseball staff was lower two years in the past, a transfer Carroll pinned on financial uncertainty throughout the pandemic. However the faculty since has added a males’s soccer staff, she added. Carroll mentioned she is assured the varsity would be capable of set up the staff financially, including that faculty soccer groups usually generate income.
When Scott was requested whether or not the potential soccer staff may play video games at Soldier Area amid the Chicago Bears’ growing plans to go away the stadium for a brand new one in Arlington Heights, Scott answered with fun, “If it’s obtainable.”
The staff would compete within the Soccer Championship Subdivision, the second stage of NCAA Division I soccer, a faculty spokesperson mentioned.
“I hope that, on the finish of this committee, we discover that we’re capable of transfer ahead with this soccer program,” mentioned Griffith, a South Aspect native and two-time Tremendous Bowl champion. “It will possibly convey so many different individuals into your program. It may have such an necessary influence for our neighborhood.”
Griffith mentioned the committee’s suggestion in the end will probably be handed to college leaders who will make a last determination. The committee must take its time to kind a considerate suggestion, he added.
The brand new staff may very well be an funding within the South Aspect and its younger individuals, Griffith mentioned.
“It’s not essentially about are individuals taking part in within the NBA, the NFL or occurring and taking part in any skilled sports activities however the alternative to have an schooling,” he mentioned.